William Johnson's article After TV Accepted the Call, Sunday Was Never the Same (Jan. 5) was excellent. His description of the bidding war between the networks for the NFL and AFL games made me feel as though I had personally experienced the tensions and surprises. That last week in January 1964 had a great effect on professional football. I think it was a good one.
William Johnson really got down to the nitty-gritty in his report of the behind-the-scenes moves in pro football's television war. The characters involved will not soon be forgotten: Harry Wismer and his idiosyncrasies, Bill MacPhail and his ploys, Roone Arledge and his wit. However, the iron rule of the cynical Pete Rozelle will be remembered as long as football exists.
Rozelle nurtured his blooming plant into what is now America's No. 1 national pastime. The tube was the ultimate and, instead of being rushed into long-term, heavy TV contracts, he gradually assessed the league's future and took it from there. No one is about to tell Mr. Rozelle how to operate his industry the way other sports are able to influence their respective hierarchies. In an empire where lesser men would have failed, this energetic commissioner succeeded. My hat is off to him.
East Dubuque, Ill.
"Let's pause for a moment...." Those wondrous, magnificent words of wisdom (?) splaying a sponsor's commercial have now become one big fat irritating interruption of what was once an enjoyable event of TV football.
William Johnson states, "There are always at least 19 [commercials] over the four quarters of a contest." This means a minimum of 20 minutes a game devoted to watching people smoking, shaving, beering, etc., which hardly adds to sports entertainment. The result: less appreciation of the football event. Will our advertising media kill the goose that lays the golden egg? Or is just plain greediness making pro football viewing less and less enjoyable?
Let's not pause too many moments or it will be back to the beach on Sundays for Joe Doaks and family. Or shall we invent a TV set that automatically turns off the commercials?
Your series on TV and sport is a sad but no doubt accurate account of American business operations with their total disregard for a fair price or responsible management. The economic spiral is obvious and simple, and it starts when three TV executives concoct totally exorbitant offers to televise sports. To offset this fantastic cost, TV charges industry its proportionate share, plus profit, for advertisements. And the parasitic and supercilious advertising industry takes its percentage, which is very sweet by now.
At the same time, the industries that are paying to advertise on TV are poring over their profit and loss figures and coming to the startling decision that, to offset the inflationary advertising costs, they must increase the prices of their products. Other industries, competitive and noncompetitive, related and unrelated, take account of this new marketplace price and conclude that if Americans will pay 84� for a box of, say, soap flakes, surely they will pay 84� for a pound of hamburger or a tube of toothpaste, a plastic toy and so on, up and down the price scale.
The next step is that these same Americans—now called the labor force, the labor unions, the white-collar workers, even the stockholders and, altogether, the paying public—recognize their individual need for added income to "pay the going price." They must go to their employers to demand, in one form or another, higher wages and/or higher dividends.
And let's not forget that the superplayers in the arena are also uniting under the TV spotlights and taking their money on the run. That of course sets up an obvious work parallel to all the other positions and professions of the workaday world.