It is difficult to shock the present-day sports fan but after reading Ray Kennedy's poignant essay on the mayhem in hockey ( Wanted: An End to Mayhem, Nov. 17), I was genuinely saddened. I had the same feeling when I started John Underwood's article on kids' football (Taking the Fun Out of a Game). However, the latter ended up on one of the warmest high notes that I can recall as Bob Cupp's peewee ran his first sweep. I was still smiling as I closed the magazine—until I was confronted once more by the hockey brawl pictured on your cover. Do you think you could introduce Clarence Campbell to Cupp? Perhaps the NHL owners ought to meet him, too.
G. GORDON CONNALLY
The current trend toward out-and-out assault in professional hockey is not only abhorrent but intolerable. Under the law, such actions are criminal offenses and not subject to NHL "interpretations." Bobby Orr has my respect and admiration for being man enough to stand up against the trend. When well played, hockey can be exciting, physical and interesting. In its present form it is an insult to any true sports fan.
RICHARD S. BROCKWAY
The violence in hockey should not shock anyone. Man (and woman) was born with violence in his (or her) blood. I think the NHL should establish strict rules for needless fights but not for the ones that erupt from the heat of the battle.
New York City
Your article may be comparable to one found in Rome Illustrated in 476 A.D.
GARY E. WILSON
Bowling Green, Ohio
I compliment John Underwood on his fine article and Bob Cupp on his fun approach to the game of football. Having attended my 10-year-old son's baptism into the world of organized football this season, I was appalled at the clinical, win-at-any-cost approach to the sport. The scene could very well have taken place at Municipal Stadium, except the participants were 70 pounds soaking wet. I am sure some good is derived from all of this, but I will not soon forget the sight of one "coach" loudly berating a small boy on the sideline, reducing him to tears. Where was the fun that day?
HAL G. TIPPETT
Why must everything successful become suspect? In your article we coaches were treated as if we all had Napoleonic complexes. Isn't it possible that the vast majority of us are merely well-meaning adults who enjoy the game and working with children?
Human beings are by nature competitive, and children are their own severest critics.
HUGH J. HERRON
As a Little League umpire, I was continually aghast at the immaturity of managers; I was sure that the fault lay with forcing the "winning" ethos of adults upon kids. I've since changed my mind. The villain is our spectator society. Deprived of the physical release of exerting his direct influence on the game, the spectator goes bananas. The manager, aware of the ravages of old age, mourns his own youthful missed chances and cleanses himself by taking it out on "his" kids. The truth is that small children are not terribly concerned with winning. The sense of teamwork and physical exhilaration are goals enough. What we really need are leagues for aging parents.
Based on his statistics—.331 batting average, 21 home runs, 105 RBIs—plus his contribution to his team's success and being named Rookie of the Year, my vote for Sportsman of the Year goes to Fred Lynn of the Boston Red Sox.
O. J. Simpson. He's the best open-field runner since Gale Sayers.
JAMES C. MILLER III