PAT FOR PAT
Your May 7 article on Pat Stapleton (Little Biff Man of the Black Hawks) was much appreciated and long overdue. Though Bobby Hull remains my particular passion (I'm even subscribing to a Winnipeg newspaper to keep track of his new team), I have long considered Stapleton the Hawks' outstanding all-round performer, going back to the rookie days of his flat-top haircut. The writers have too long singled out the Orrs, Parks, Magnusons and other big-name defensemen. It is nice to see that someone at last has recognized Pat's talents as a hockey player.
JOHN JAY WILHEIM
THE AMERICANIZATION OF SOCCER
Congratulations on Gwilym S. Brown's interesting article Quick, Somebody, a Pelé (May 7). I sympathize with Phil Woosnam, who is doing his best to promote soccer in the U.S. It really is a shame that professional soccer has continued to meet "America's mulish reluctance," and that all sincere or business-oriented attempts at introducing it in this country have remained almost fruitless. One reason for this may be found in the fact that Woosnam and Clive Toye are "trying to build a pyramid from the top down," ignoring at the same time the "groundwork at the schoolboy and amateur level." They seem to have overlooked the fact that whatever has been done for soccer in this country is due to the unselfish efforts of many individuals from among various ethnic groups: Ukrainians, Germans, Greeks, Italians, etc. Many existing amateur soccer leagues have for years been doing the groundwork (e.g., the German American Soccer Association in New York). As a result, the youngsters from those leagues are the ones now playing soccer on high school and college levels, and they should be credited for the fact that "over 600 colleges now field organized teams."
We suggest that contact with those leagues, sincere cooperation with them and financial support of their efforts (by those who support NASL and others) will be of more service to soccer than imported British teams, which draw only a handful of spectators and do not appeal to those ethnic groups that have been doing the Herculean work for the sport.
JOSEPH V. KRAWCZENIUK
It was nice to see the story on the long-ignored North American Soccer League. However, it is doubtful that readers will fully appreciate the inroads that native Americans have made into this once all-foreign league. For instance, last year the St. Louis Stars were the only team to field a starting lineup that was more than half American. The result was a division title and a narrow loss in the playoff finals.
Over the winter, the league's nine teams drafted a total of 43 college seniors, and several of the clubs will be using their selections as the nuclei of revamped and distinctly North American squads. The newly formed Philadelphia Atoms have gone a step further by hiring Al Miller as one of the very few American-born coaches in the history of the circuit.
To sum it up, the North American Soccer League has made more progress down the road to Americanization in six years than the National Hockey League has in 50.
RICHARD S. HARLAN
Upper Montclair, N.J.
Soccer? American soccer? You bet. Our Massapequas Soccer Club alone has 1,400 boys playing on 87 different teams. Soccer is growing all over the country and we all hope that this will be reflected in your magazine by many more articles. The new Pelé is alive and he is an American.
ALAN E. MAHER
Massapequa Park, N.Y.
I once said that if SI ever ran an article on the North American Soccer League I would eat that issue. I wish to report that the May 7 issue goes very well with mustard and mayonnaise (although the staples are tough). I hope I can make a regular diet of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
As one who has been in country & Western music for six of my seven years in broadcasting, not only as an announcer but also as sports director, I see the impact of Jerry Clower (Knock 'im Out, Jay-ree! April 30) every day. Not only do I receive hundreds of requests for Jerry's "coon-huntin' " stories, but people have started calling in for Mississippi State scores right in the middle of LSU-Tulane country.
Jerry Clower has brought hours upon hours of that good old down-home country humor to people everywhere, no matter what background they claim. Hats off for sharing with the rest of the nation some of Jerry's humor, feelings and beliefs.