Sports Retorts

To the Editor,

As a Wisconsin alumnus, inveterate Badger fan and eyewitness to the Badger's Rose Bowl victory, I was disappointed with Tom Danehy's uninsightful "Insight.Tom" (December 31)

Mailbag How can any discussion of the poor attendance at Copper Bowls (I hate the new name!) neglect to mention the typical but always impressive turnout of Badger fans two years ago? Even though Wisconsin is a lot farther than Utah, the color red still dominated the stadium. If the Copper Bowl needs more people in attendance, why not invite not only good teams but also teams with avid supporters like the Badgers? Danehy doesn't seem to have much insight into what can make a football game exciting and fun: the enthusiasm of tried and true fans!

And I must take exception to his remarks about the unworthy match-up of UCLA and Wisconsin for the Rose Bowl. If Wisconsin was "the worst team ever to play in the Rose Bowl," just what does their victory make of UCLA? And since UCLA beat the Wildcats, what would that make of our Cats? No, both Wisconsin and UCLA clearly deserved to be there and they proved it by playing a thrilling game.

--Sandy Mishkin

To the Editor,

Congratulations on Jeff Smith's well-written article on rodeo, whose time has come ("Yee-Ha!," December 31). I'm in complete agreement with him, but would like to add some of my own opinions on sports.

Today the sports are turned into a huge money-making machine. In ancient Greece, sports were not a public entertainment spectacle, but were used solely for keeping the soldiers in top physical condition. A little later they had contests with other cities and nations. But sport was never a money-making prostitute as it is today. There; put that in your pipe and smoke it.

--Charles Petrevan

To the Editor,

So, Jeff Smith doesn't like the fact that professional sports salaries have reached obscene levels (Yee-Ha!," December 31). Well, do something about it.

I was an avid but mediocre athlete as a youngster, playing basketball in grade school and high school and adult leagues in Anchorage when I was in my 20s. Also tried football as a high school freshman, but my size (6-foot-1 and 136 pounds) and lack of strength meant the big boys almost killed me.

I used to be an ardent sports fan, following several pro sports teams, even when they were losing (including reading box scores). I admire guys who can dunk from the free-throw line, guys who can rack up 1,000 yards rushing, guys who can hit 60-plus home runs, but my favorites are the unsung stars (none of them are heroes--they have never done anything heroic in their lives) who can make no-look passes (OK, so Magic and Bird weren't unsung), lead the league in doubles and triples, be Gold Glove infielders, or require double cover so the other receiver can make the catches. However, over the past few years, I've become more cynical as team franchises have sold for multiple millions of dollars, owners have blackmailed cities into providing facilities, and athlete's salaries have reached astronomical levels--but, for me, the kicker has been the athletes acting like spoiled babies. I have become so disgusted with athletics, I don't even open the sports pages anymore.

Smith has been one of the few writers to realize that the salaries are paid by consumers. A report I read last year (Money magazine, maybe--I found it in a doctor's office) stated that about half of the income for any one team (depending on the sport and team) is from TV revenue. Since TV revenue comes from advertising and advertising budgets are built into the ultimate price of the object, you and I are paying those horrendous salaries every time we buy a Michelob, a Ford, a Coke.

For some time I've been contemplating starting a boycott of products advertised on TV sporting events, but the 70-plus-hour weeks I have been working preclude any such endeavor. Therefore, Smith, as a result of his column, is elected, either to tackle it on his own, co-author it, or find someone with the time and energy to attempt it. To make the advertisers sit up and take notice, it will require that their sales are down and they know the reason why: Consumers will have to tell them they will no longer buy products advertised during sporting events. A web site may work in the beginning, but some kind of malleable hard copy will also be required. If a true effort were made, I think we could make a difference. Think about it.

--J. Michael Green


To the Editor,

I've been meaning to write this letter for some time, to let you know that I receive more insight on the inner workings of the City of Tucson--good and not so good--from your newspaper than from any other source. This is important to me because, while I am a 37-year resident of Sonoita, I am conscious of the impact that Tucson has on her neighboring communities.

I might add, my initial interest in your newspaper was triggered by a chance reading of a column by your columnist, Jeff Smith, some 10 years ago. I have been an avid fan ever since, and his column is the first article to which I turn, even though more than often I hold an opposing view.

He writes a vibrant, entertaining column.

--George Yakobian

Wild Thing

To the Editor,

Regarding James P. Needham's letter about wolves ("Darwinian Dead-Ends," December 24): Modern society fought hard and long to "tame" the wilderness, wolves included. It is natural in all humankind to improve their lot in life. When knowledge reaches a certain critical mass and conditions are favorable, then technology takes off and it is all but impossible to stop.

This urge towards technology inherent in humans, this taming of the wilderness, brought us better food production and supplies, both vegetable and animal. Also, technology brought us timber, chemicals, concrete and plastics. How can we control our progress, that part which damages us, or ameliorate the damage?

Who of my "tree-hugging" and "wilderness-utopian" brothers and sisters will give up the modern technological life that cocoons us all, to lead us into a new nirvana of hunter-gatherer primitivism...and re-balance humans with nature? (Which means a few billion people have to die.)

We cannot go back, but interested citizens could, if they are willing to work hard for a good cause, form private organizations for the purpose of buying or trading land to keep it or turn it back into wilderness. The concept of private property allows the owners to use the land as they wish, just so long as that use does not harm their neighbors or their neighbors' land.

With enough people to join the cause, several million acres could be purchased; not necessarily all in one place. A large enough organization, or several of them, could perhaps pressure Congress into selling you public land (for preservation only). Then you could keep out farmers and ranchers and loggers, and you could use the land as you wish. You could also charge a nominal fee for usage and control just how much traffic (and to what extent) your wilderness got each year. And you could have your wolves and bison and elk and spotted owls and whatever. If, however, not enough people join the cause, then not enough people care about wolves and wilderness.

There is an alternative, of course. The government, which is force personified, could force everyone into "city-enclaves" with high-rise, high-tech "gardens" to feed us all. The rest of the landscape could then be turned back into wilderness, and the wolves could run wild once again. That would rather be like the scenario in the movie Logan's Run.

I can hardly wait! I'm in federal prison (for non-violent, non-larcenous, consensual adult behavior), so I already have the "enclave" part down pat. (But no human recycling at 30, of course.)

--David A. Nichols

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