Pat Putnam's article on the Ali-Spinks fight (He's the Greatest, I'm the Best, Feb. 27) sent chills up and down my spine. Could any man have defeated Muhammad Ali and accepted the WBC belt more gallantly than Leon Spinks did—first, by thanking the Lord for his victory and then by pointing out that, although he is now the best, his man Ali is still the greatest? In my mind Leon Spinks is a first-class world champion.
I applaud Pat Putnam for his sensitivity. He praised and honored the new champion while reminding us that the man Spinks beat is a good individual whose dignity can never be taken away from him. The article was written from the heart and touched the hearts of those who read it.
Doesn't it seem possible that somewhere in the script of the incredible life of Muhammad Ali there is a chapter telling how he came back against all odds to win the title for an unprecedented third time? You gotta believe!
I am a Muhammad Ali fan, and always will be, but I feel no regret after his loss to Leon Spinks. My only regret is that there are still some people who will not accept Ali or his legend. Those who have magnified his faults and defeats and belittled his accomplishments are the true losers. Through their ignorance they have been unable to appreciate the greatest fighter ever and a kind man who has given much of himself in the ring.
Walter Bingham's article Let's Ring Out the Old and Ring in the New (Feb. 27) was very well done. I hope Jim Ferrier and his over-the-hill buddies will realize that they are only defeating the game by continuing to compete in the major golf tournaments once they are past their prime. They should step aside and give young players like Dave Nevatt and Curtis Strange a chance to prove their competitiveness.
As a former high school bench warmer in some sports and a star in others, I offer a solution to the PGA's dilemma. Allow pros with lifetime exemptions to participate in any tournament simply by informing the PGA of their intentions four to six weeks in advance of the tournament and then expand the field to accommodate them. The young players need a break; the former stars need respect.
WILLIAM KLING JR.
Why does a pro golf tournament have to have exactly 144 spots? If an old pro wants to play, let him, but continue to leave 144 spots for "active" players. If five old players show up, start the tournament with 149. Such an adjustment should not be too difficult for the PGA to handle.
EAST IS EAST, AND...
Anchorage, Alaska in the Eastern Basketball Association (North for Sure, but Also East, Feb. 27)? That's absurd! The latitude and longitude of Anchorage are 61 degrees 10 minutes North and 149 degrees 45 minutes West. If people in Anchorage want some basketball competition, why don't they form a Western Basketball Association?
I have checked it out in my atlas and am satisfied that the Anchorage Northern Knights belong in the Eastern Basketball Association, but I'm still trying to figure out how Florida State winds up in the Midwest section of your college basketball rankings (BASKETBALL'S WEEK, Feb. 27).
? SI's geographical grouping of basketball teams is geared to coincide with the regions in which they or their conference representatives are likely to appear in the NCAA tournament. Florida State is a member of the Metro 7 (see page 51), whose tournament champion has an automatic berth in the NCAA's Midwest Regional playoffs.—ED.