THE STATE OF THE GAME
Thanks for Bill Wall's ideas and thoughts on methods of cleaning up collegiate basketball (Time to Clean Up Basketball, Feb. 14). The administration of any academic community that allows an athletic department to run unchecked is asking for problems. An administration that condones turning students and faculty away from home games and allows the "paying public" to monopolize the seats in the stadium or arena cannot justify the athletic department's existence in an educational institution.
We should start cleaning up all collegiate athletics by issuing grants-in-aid on, first, academic qualifications and, second, a need factor. This aid would be open to all students, male and female, athlete and non-athlete. Of course, all financial aid would be handled from a separate office on the campus, i.e., the department of admissions, scholarship committee. The coach would then become a teacher-coach, instead of a talent scout with a large bankroll.
WILLIAM G. THORNTON
Coach of track
St. Olaf College
Articles like Time to Clean Up Basketball would be unnecessary if college athletics abandoned their hypocritical pursuit of amateurism. According to the dictionary, a professional activity is one engaged in by persons receiving financial return. The college athletic scholarship is, obviously, financial return, and when the NCAA says that any financial return beyond the standard scholarship violates amateurism, that statement is arbitrary and illogical. If one cent is paid a college athlete to perform his skill, professionalism is present.
We should admit that scholarship athletes are professionals. Then there would be no need for under-the-table bidding for players, and whatever return a player could command from a college would be his right in accordance with the principles of free enterprise. Of course, the resulting contract would be legally binding and, if the contracts were made on a four-year basis, the college would be protected against encroachment by the pro leagues.
Granted, you have published two fine articles in reaction to the riot that erupted in the Minnesota-Ohio State game (An Ugly Affair in Minneapolis
, Feb. 7). And we can only echo support for the efforts of National Association of Basketball Coaches President Wall to clean up basketball. On the other hand, we marvel at your audacity in citing Tom Burleson (Tall Drink of Mountain Can-Do, Feb. 14) for his "great move," an elbow in the face. Rather than being "unsophisticated retaliation," Burleson's act is, in retrospect, almost enough to have been a good excuse for rioting similar in nature to that which occurred in Minneapolis under such frightening circumstances. It is obvious that housecleaning of basketball is a good idea, but are you serious about it?
Brigham Young University
William Johnson has written another fine article (Games of the Rainbow, Feb. 14) in his continuing coverage of the Winter Olympics. I am disturbed, though, by his treatment of the women's figure-skating competition. Mr. Johnson seems to imply that Trixi Schuba's domination of the school figures and her steady, if unglamorous, performance in the free-skating event meant that runners-up Karen Magnussen and Janet Lynn were more deserving of the gold medal.
It seems to be a common expectation that leading athletes must not only be outstanding performers but also have exciting personalities and beautiful bodies. This superstar combination does not occur frequently. A winning performance carries with it an excitement of its own for which a pretty face or an attractive smile is no substitute. Miss Schuba is worthy of her medal, and she is entitled to its full honor.
One statement about the figure skating does not ring true. You say that Trixi Schuba's gold medal was Austria's first in figure skating. In the women's event, Austria had one previous winner, Hernia Planck-Szab� in 1924. Karl Schafer won the men's singles in 1932 and again in '36, and Wolfgang Schwarz won in 1968. And in the pairs, Austrians won in 1924 and 1956.
WILLIAM H. REGN
In your Jan. 31 Olympic preview on figure skating you said, "Both U.S. girls will be challenged by Canadian Karen Magnussen, whose only problem has been inconsistency." Obviously Karen solved that problem (if she ever had it) by passing both Julie Lynn Holmes and Janet Lynn and winning the silver medal.
Mrs. D. R. TREMBLAY
Birch Island, British Columbia
With 1,128 athletes to choose from, SI staff successfully picked 52 of the 105 med al winners for a commendable percentage of .495. You also were able to match 23 winners with the same medal they won (e.g Ard Schenk's three gold medals in sped skating). Your best event for predictions was figure skating, which earned you a .661 mark. The disqualification of Austria's Karl Schranz and the poor showing of the US men and France's skiers made Alpine skiing your worst event. You could only predict six of the 18 medalists for a .333 percentage.