BORING AND UNJUST
Tex Maule for commissioner of baseball, football, basketball and all other sports (The Curse of the Endless Playoff, April 7)! His keen insight into this area is what the sports world drastically needs. Seasons of the various sports are already too long and boring at times. As for pro football, with six conference champions and the addition of the second-place teams from each conference in the playoffs it would be, as Maule so aptly states it, a farce.
I hope Tex Maule's article will start a movement to prevent pro football from committing suicide.
I love football like a kid loves candy. If you give a kid enough candy, he will get sick. If you give me enough football, I will get sick. I guess there are about 40 million fans just like me. If we all get sick who will be left to buy Mr. Rozelle's candy?
TOM H. FERGUSON
Tex Maule has an excellent point, but his article misses an important distinction. The issue is not so much boredom as justice.
Basketball and hockey have an unjust system. The teams play all year and then, in effect, establish the winners in brief playoffs. Hal Greer of the Philadelphia 76ers put it well after the Boston Celtics won in the playoffs: "Sure, they're a great team, but to this day I think the better team didn't win." It didn't. The season-long record proves it. Maule makes this point well.
But the new system for baseball is entirely different, as is the pro football system established up to now. Here well-established divisional winners have a playoff against one another and then against the champion of the other league. It is a fair system. The issue of too-long seasons is different from the issue of fairness. Separate divisions make sense and, thus, playoffs make sense. I do not know, of course, how the pro football wrangle will work out, but central to the outcome should be this matter of a system that reflects season-long supremacy, as the present system reasonably does.
Thank you, Tex Maule. Finally someone has recognized the problem that sooner or later will affect all professional sports—loss of fan interest. Lately the pro owners have assumed the fans' appetites to be insatiable, and we are being overwhelmed by more and more teams, divisions, games, playoffs, etc. We will soon need home computers to keep the situation organized.
The proliferation of playoffs is only symptomatic of the fact that there are just too many teams. When there were only 12 football and 16 baseball teams it was a relatively simple matter to be on top of the situation. You could commit the schedule of the football Giants to memory and would know just who they had to beat on which Sundays to win the conference.
A possible solution is to systematically structure the leagues into six-to-eight-team divisions with little or no interdivision play. A good part of the friendly arguments over baseball are concerned with National vs. American League teams. If interdivision play is absolutely necessary, I think it should be rigidly structured (e.g., six or eight weeks of play within a division, a week or two of interdivision play perhaps between teams that are at the same level in the standings and finally another six or eight weeks of intradivision play followed by appropriate playoffs). Concentrating the interdivision play would have the effect of midseason playoffs on a multiteam basis whereby the winners, both teams and divisions, could get appropriate rewards, such as money and/or home team advantage in the finals.
THE PLAY'S THE THING
It was my pleasure to read your article about Torben Ulrich (A Not-So-Melancholy Dane, April 7). I was glad to learn that someone felt that way about tennis. Very rarely does one see a player so engrossed in the sport that the fact of his winning or losing means nothing. I believe that tennis should be a sport of concentration and form rather than a game of one defeating another just for a victory.