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19TH HOLE: THE READERS TAKE OVER
Edited by Gay Flood
September 04, 1978
BRUTALITY (CONT.)Sir:Punishment Is a Crime, Part 2 of your series on brutality in football (Aug. 14 et seq. is a shockingly revealing compendium of bad sportsmanship. I think this article will go a long way toward alerting the average fan to the problems of modern-day football.
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September 04, 1978

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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BRUTALITY (CONT.)
Sir:
Punishment Is a Crime, Part 2 of your series on brutality in football (Aug. 14 et seq. is a shockingly revealing compendium of bad sportsmanship. I think this article will go a long way toward alerting the average fan to the problems of modern-day football.

However, John Underwood goes too far in placing the blame for such practices solely on the shoulders of coaches. Some of his phrases—"probably as honorable and caring as most," "reluctance to face reality," "fearful of change," "would a 30-yard penalty make a coach more conscious of his humanity?"—make coaches appear to be violence-loving, bloodthirsty hoodlums who are devouring our nation's young sportsmen.

I am a coach and I will not deny that some coaches fit the stereotype Underwood describes. But he almost totally disregards the attitudes and situations that contribute to the development of this type of coach. Underwood briefly mentions the pressure to win, and that is indeed a factor in the teaching of brutal techniques. However, he ignores the fact that many of our coaches are not properly trained or subsidized to handle their enormous responsibilities. I shudder to think how many practices I teach that are incorrect or unnecessarily violent not because I am "fearful of change," but because I lack sufficient finances and time and the patience of my employers to learn.
JERRY W. METZLER
Lindsay, Texas

Sir:
While Tom Landry calls for "a penalty for every blow to a player's head," he apparently condones the actions of his assistant, Mike Ditka, in teaching players to hit an opponent in the chest with their helmets and then bring both arms up and, with both fists, hit the man in the groin.

While John Madden calls for special rules to protect the quarterback, he condones the actions of George Atkinson and Jack Tatum and the rest of his team.

Sure, the coaches are to blame, but it's always "the other coach, not me."
PAUL J. MAGUIRE
Melrose, Mass.

Sir:
I am all for taking cheap shots out of football. But until the people who play the game—the healthy ones, not the injured—say, "Wait! This is crazy!" brutality is not going to stop. No action will be taken until players are willing to quit the game. As long as the players continue to accept brutality, football will condone it.
SCOTT ERICKSON
Fresno, Calif.

Sir:
If Gene Calhoun, the lawyer, Big Ten referee and "voice in the wilderness," needs a "30-second bulletin: FROM NOW ON, NO LATE HITS" to help clear up the excessive violence in football, then he should check his mailbox for possible theft. It sounds to me as though somebody is pinching his rule books.

I don't understand why he needs a directive to tell him that he should call holding every time he sees it, or that he should call hits out of bounds or extra hits on a fallen quarterback. The next time Calhoun sees holding, regardless of intent, field position or possible criticism from coaches or sports-writers, he should throw his flag.
HARRY DEL GRANDE
Greenbrae, Calif.

Sir:
You want players and coaches to regain their respect for officials? You want the number of unsportsmanlike acts reduced? Then how about making the penalty for such infractions one point instead of a measly 15 yards? That would surely bring about some changes—and fast.
JON B. CHERNAK
Rochester, N.Y.

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