SI Vault
March 20, 1972
FOR SPORT'S SAKESirs:Hallelujah! There is a light in the forest! Until now I was afraid I was the only person who still enjoyed sports for the fun of competition. Your SCORECARD item, "Win, Win, Win" (March 6), has restored my faith that I am not alone.
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March 20, 1972

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Many thanks to Pat Jordan for his fine essay on the quintessential Bo Belinsky. I had the good fortune to see Belinsky pitch for the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association not long before his retirement from baseball, and I think the healthy round of catcalls and jeering he received every time he took the mound was indicative of the fact that Belinsky is still one of America's favorite anti-heroes.
Bloomington, Ind.

Bobby Hull should blame Coach Billy Reay, not the opposition, for his shadows (His Majesty Gets Mugged Again, March 6). As I write this, the Black Hawks have played 65 games; Hull has 42 goals, the rest of the team has only 172, or slightly more than 10 per player. If Billy Reay would play a more offensive-minded game, the opposition would not be able to shadow Bobby because the other players would have to be watched as well.

As for Hull's suggestion that expansion teams put out their worst players when an advertised player comes to town, what good would it do? The expansion teams would still lose, and since visiting teams come to town only three times each, how much money could be made by letting the advertised player score six or seven goals in one night?

Besides, what about the fans in Boston, New York, Montreal and Chicago who get to see 39 home games but must watch expansion teams "performing" in 24 of these? And what will happen next year, when two more teams are added? Are these fans getting their money's worth?

The only solution for both Hull and the fans is to bring back the old six-team NHL and send everybody else to the WHA!
Concord, Mass.

Bobby Hull's traumatic persecution complex can be completely cured. May I suggest that, considering his speed, size, weight and strength, the Black Hawks transform the Blond Comet into a rushing defenseman. Bobby Orr finds skating room!

After several readings, I find that Frank Deford has written an article that deals very superficially with events in the life of Major Pete Dawkins (All-America, All the Way, Feb. 21) and includes less than subtle derogatory comments about West Point. Deford first lost my confidence in his article when he ignored Major Dawkins' request not to be treated as "another piece of nostalgia."

Deford implies that, although Major Dawkins is a man of the times, West Point (and its "inhabitants") still lives in the 1950s. Mr. Deford may be gratified to learn that in some respects we still live in the early 1800s. We still march in reviews on the Plain on Saturdays, and we still wear highly ornamented gray uniforms for these reviews. However, it is neither the uniform nor the pageantry that constitutes the substance of West Point. It is the Corps of Cadets, individually and collectively; the people are West Point. It is the group of 4,000 individuals whom Mr. Deford has referred to as "young men who have not been moved by the events of the 1960s." You are wrong, Mr. Deford.

In the process of deciding whether to come to West Point in a period such as the late '60s and early '70s, a young man must assess the possibility that he will die violently in the process of fulfilling his five-year Army commitment. Could a happy-go-lucky, carefree 17-year-old who is unaware of the events of the past 10 years make the decision intelligently? Cadets reevaluate the verity of that decision countless times before graduation. Had Deford taken the trouble to ask questions of a cadet or two he might have found that we are a bit more aware of the 1960s than he assumed us to be. Perhaps even more aware than the average students at a civilian college who do not have as direct a confrontation with war, government and the Army as we do.

Deford's account of one of our football rallies illustrates his lack of understanding of cadets and West Point. Although spirit is an important part of one of our rallies, there is another thing which is possibly even more important. The emotional release of a Friday-night, end-of-the-week party is not one of our options. After a week of wrestling with a heavy academic schedule (with classes still to follow on Saturday morning), a rally, no matter how put-on, produced or manufactured it may appear, is our only means of releasing the nervous energy of the week. Mr. Deford never tried to understand this.
Class of '74
West Point, N.Y.

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