James H. Zumberge, the new president of the University of Southern California, deserves credit not only for revealing that his esteemed school has been guilty of abuses in its athletic programs but also for his apparent determination to correct those abuses (SCORECARD, Oct. 27). But often it seems that such good intentions eventually succumb to the fear that honesty won't fill the stadium or produce national championships.
As one who is concerned about collegiate sport, I hope SI will follow Zumberge's progress on this matter. If USC faces up to its transgressions, its leadership will win it far more lasting recognition than the 63 NCAA team titles the Trojans have won to date.
It surprises me that the theme of all articles concerning academic violations is one of chastisement. I would expect someone to champion the cause of the highly talented but academically inferior athlete whose only path to pro football is through four years of experience at the college level. After all, the colleges are the farm system of pro football. Is there any way to establish either a non-academic or a low-level academic program for the non-studious player? The athlete who isn't admitted to higher education is essentially being "cast aside" in advance.
On the other hand, many of us sports fans are making it comfortably through life without a college education, so I see no justification for insisting that a pro athlete get one. It isn't true that a player who doesn't make it to the pros will forever be unable to function just because he hasn't got a college diploma.
An academic affirmative action program should be a positive remedial force in improving the prospects of deserving students. It shouldn't serve to fill the victory-at-any-cost demands of athletic departments that give only casual attention to the academic needs of the marginal student-athlete. If a player is struggling in the classroom, make him or her sit out athletics and concentrate solely on studies and getting a degree.
Being an athlete myself and having lived only three blocks from the University of Southern California campus, I've gotten to know a number of "academically marginal" student-athletes who came out of USC with more of an education than they entered with. Even those who left without a degree or a pro sports contract still had gained from the experience of interacting with individuals from different economic and cultural backgrounds.
College isn't for everyone. Neither is success. But because of their athletic ability, these young people have won the chance to see what an academically and socially successful person can attain. Some will be motivated by this exposure, others will not. That is one of the harsh realities of life.
DORSEY M. JAMES
Long live Philly Fever! The picture of the Phillies' Mike Schmidt on the cover of your Oct. 27 issue is just fine. And, to make it even better, you followed your article on the first five games of the World Series with a story on the Eagles-Cowboys showdown. Thanks for so much Philly in SPORTS ILLY.
Even I, a Royals fan, had to appreciate that photograph of the dramatic conclusion of Game 5 by Walter Iooss Jr. It was beautiful. Tug McGraw's determination. Bob Boone's jubilation. Jose Cardenal's despair. The whole stage set by a menacing scoreboard. That shot captured the essence of baseball. I'm almost sorry I ripped it into a hundred little pieces.
I enjoyed seeing Sonic Guard Paul Westphal "swingin' in the rain" on the cover of your Pro Basketball Issue (Oct. 20). However, I might add that, according to my atlas, 13 of the 23 NBA cities have more precipitation per year than Seattle's 32-inch average, including Atlanta (49 inches), Boston (38), Chicago (33), Cleveland (32+), Dallas (34), Houston (45), Indianapolis (39), Kansas City (35), New York (42), Philadelphia (41), Piscataway, N.J. (40), Portland (40) and Washington, D.C. (32+). The myth of the Seattle rainfall is enjoyed by each of the 50 or so people per square mile who inhabit the state of Washington.