I find it very disappointing that most people seem to have no sympathy for the players in the NFL strike and side almost completely with the owners (Star-Struck Canton, Aug. 5). I feel compelled to speak out in favor of the players.
The press and the public by and large see the NFL players as spoiled, rich and greedy with no loyalty whatsoever to the home team or to the fans who pay to see them. They see the fans as the ultimate victims, robbed of the pleasure of attending professional sports events by the sheer callousness and avarice of the players. Whatever happened, they ask, to the good old days when loyalty and pride were stronger incentives than money and a player considered himself lucky to become that idol of millions, a professional athlete?
While it is indeed unfortunate that professional sport has become so involved with monetary issues, the inescapable fact is that sport is a business, and it is unfair to blame this development on the athletes alone. Athletes are no more than one component in a complex of factors that have contributed to the current situation.
Apparently the public does not realize how professional sports are operated off the playing field. The fans demand total loyalty from a player no matter what the personal cost, yet the owners, despite their aggrieved denials, are the first to discard loyalty in favor of money when it comes to dealing with their players. There are very few, if any, owners in professional sports who actually take into consideration loyalty and pride in their dealings; profit, and profit alone, is the overriding consideration.
The demands of professional athletes for more freedom within their trade are at the very least worth listening to.
San Jose, Calif.
The football players at Elmore County High School hope the NFL players' strike will not end too soon. It has been a source of great amusement to us. We have enjoyed a few light moments by threatening our head coach with walking off and striking in the same manner as the pros. We are paid nothing, we receive few benefits and we don't even know what they mean by freedom. We play because we love football. Too bad all the strikers can't suffer losing seasons this year.
For the life of me I cannot understand the NFL players' rabid opposition to the " Rozelle Rule." Any NFL player worth his salt was paid a substantial bonus to sign when drafted. Why should an owner give him up without compensation?
GEORGE F. PLATTS
Ormand Beach, Fla.
Pro football owners and players alike should know that their antics have led me to refuse an offer of season tickets, an offer I've eagerly awaited while languishing on the 49er waiting list.
JAMES D. ANDERSON
Being an avid reader of SI, I have always considered it to be excellent. That is until I read the article on the WFL (Ball That Glitters May Be Gold, July 22). I have watched the first two WFL televised games, and those will be my last. I play football at North College Hill High School, and our team is worth more space in your magazine than any WFL team. Instead of glamorizing this bush league, why not write about the 28 veteran Cincinnati Bengals who cared enough about football to defy this stupid NFLPA strike? These men are the real heroes of the game.
In your article Solidarity with Solidity (July 15) you claimed, "The NFL Players Association called a strike and became the first group of professional athletes ever to picket their employers." The least you could do is give credit where it is due. The first group was made up of the veteran players of the Canadian Football League, who went on strike a month before the NFL players did.