SI Vault
Edited by Gay Flood
May 17, 1982
AILING SPORTSSir:Did you plan it that way, or was it coincidence that four reports in the May 3 issue demonstrated what is wrong with professional sports today?
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May 17, 1982

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Did you plan it that way, or was it coincidence that four reports in the May 3 issue demonstrated what is wrong with professional sports today?

First, the SCORECARD item "Canadian Bone Disease" illustrated the absurdity of the number of NHL, NFL and NBA teams that qualify for the playoffs after an overlong season.

Second, another SCORECARD item told us of the demise of Boston's amateur marathon—next year we can expect rampant commercialism.

Third, the article Overloaded With Circuit Breakers, a superbly written piece, demonstrated how the greed—and stupidity—of players and promoters has turned tennis into a circus.

And, finally, the article He Won't Clean Up His Act showed how a hockey player like New York Islander Goaltender Billy Smith can swing his stick at and butt-end his opponents and commit other unsavory acts while pretending to be a big-league sportsman.

What has turned me off—and made me turn off my TV set—is just this kind of greed and commercialism on the part of owners, promoters and players, accompanied by violence on the part of some players. Why don't we simply bring on the gladiators, stage a mammoth version of the Roman games, sell tickets at $100 a seat and get on with it?

Hats off to SI for serving as the conscience of the sports world. E.M. Swift has captured the essence of hockey violence in the persona of Billy Smith. But don't blame Smith or the Islander management.

Every year football has tougher controls on violence. Baseball has strict beanball and interference rules. Basketball has a third official. What about hockey? Who protects the Smiths and the Williamses and the Jonathans from one another? Hockey has become a contest in which only the fittest can survive. And at the moment, Billy Smith is obviously quite fit.
Wayne, N.J.

Thank you for your exceptional article on Billy Smith. I'm an avid Islander fan who loves to watch him frustrate opponents with his terrific goaltending abilities and also punish them for going into his territory. He has brought a brand-new concept to hockey with his offensive goaltending techniques.

He's a unique and honest individual who doesn't try to hide his emotions or deny or excuse his reputation as a physical player. And for those who don't like Billy's style of goaltending, I can only say, "Have a nice time watching the Islanders win their third consecutive Stanley Cup." Go, Billy!
Stormville, N.Y.

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