SI Vault
Edited by Gay Flood
February 14, 1983
FATE OF THE COWBOYS Sir:Ah, come on, SI. The Dallas Cowboys exposed as "a creaking battleship that has seen its best days, its engines straining, the rifling in its gun barrels worn out" (A Capital Day for the Skins, Jan. 31)? What do you and Ralph Wiley call the 24 teams that didn't make the conference championship games, overaged tugboats?
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February 14, 1983

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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I was disgusted to read a suggestion by Dr. John Cheffers that hockey may be moving in the direction of the "giggle sports," such as pro wrestling and Roller Derby. A few years ago I might have gone along with Cheffers' theories, but these days they just don't wash. With the help of many talented young players—most prominent among them SI's 1982 Sportsman of the Year, Wayne Gretzky—and recent rule changes regarding violence, hockey is again becoming a fast-paced, artistic sport. NHL President John Ziegler may be slow to move, but his actions have had effect.

Furthermore, Cheffers' speculations about the relationship between violence on the ice and the relative mannerliness of the spectators are an insult to hockey fans. Could it be that most hockey spectators are simply intelligent enough to see that fan violence is useless and unnecessary?

Forget about Slap Shot, Dr. Cheffers. Things have changed.
Kingsville, Ohio

I'm one of the spectators at the Kentucky Derby each year who are appalled to witness the plucking, trampling and brazen destruction of hundreds of the tulips that grace Churchill Downs. Dr. John Cheffers had best look beyond the flora to find the "seeds of fan restraint."
Genoa City, Wis.

Give Bil Gilbert and Lisa Twyman high marks in sociology and psychology but a low one in history. Riotous chariot races did occur during the reign of Justinian. However, the year was 532 A.D., not 532 B.C. as stated. At about the same time, the famous Byzantine emperor codified the laws that provide the legal basis for curbing many types of antisocial behavior by Western man and fan.
Arnold, Md.

I had to laugh at Bill Veeck's comment concerning George Steinbrenner's influence on violence in the stands. Wasn't it Veeck whose Disco Demolition Night resulted in the crowd's invading the playing field and the forfeit of the second game of a doubleheader at Comiskey Park a few years back?
Astoria, N.Y.

?Yes, on July 12, 1979.—ED.

I read with great interest your recent article about Coach Lou Campanelli of James Madison University ( Madison's Ave. to Success, Dec. 27-Jan. 3). In it, brief mention was made of Madison's athletic director, Dean Ehlers. If he's the same Dean Ehlers I remember from my youth, Campanelli would do well to consult him about shooting if the Dukes ever fall into a scoring slump. Ehlers was a basketball legend in southern Illinois during the mid-'40s, and the only reason he didn't get more ink was that he played for a very small rural high school and was following in the wake of stars like Dike Eddleman and the Whiz Kids of Illinois.

When I was a junior high school student in Murphysboro, down in the Little Egypt area of southern Illinois, my mother took a wartime substitute-teaching job at Campbell Hill High, where Ehlers was a student. Like most kids my age in Illinois at that time, I was a basketball nut, and for the two years my mom taught at Campbell Hill, I watched Ehlers perform hardwood miracles. He could make 'em from three to 30 feet out and anywhere in between, and he routinely scored 30 or 40 points a game. He even scored 60 or more a couple of times. Remember, this was in an era when—and in an area where—team scoring averages were usually in the 40s and 50s. Ehlers was about 6'2", maybe a little taller, blond, handsome and, as my mother tells it, a model student, leader and athlete. I believe he played college ball at Central, now Central Methodist, in Missouri and later coached at Memphis State. That's the last I'd heard about him until your story about James Madison.

In any case, he was one of the best high school players I've ever seen, and he was the first real jump-shooter in our end of the state. He was my boyhood idol, and it's nice to see he's still in the game.
Springfield, Ill.

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