The underlying thesis of Mr. Kindred's analysis of Coach John Thompson and Georgetown's cracker-box gym -- "a ridiculous place to play big-time basketball" -- is that the bigger and jazzier the arena, the better the team and the game. The real question, of course, is rather whether, in front of him, the sportswriter sees, in fact big-time basketball, on the courts, however unplushy the conditions of his watching. On his own principles, Mr. Kindred would presumably have been delighted with the ancient Roman Colosseum. He knows a priori the game at Cole is going to be better than at McDonough because the former has more seats.
Basketball is one of the few sports in which six or seven nobodies can trot onto the court of a dinky gym and knock off the best, then turn around the do the exact same thing in the supposedly 'best's" own spacious quarters. This is part of basketball's attraction. De Paul is dramatic as was the old USF team with Bill Russell because they had "ridiculous" gyms. Basketball teams are composed of players and coaches, not gyms. We do not pay to see the gym, but the game.
Mr. Kindred said, "McDonough against 23,000 is a mismatch." It may be, but Georgetown did defeat No. 2 Syracuse in a 9,000-seat gym. Both sides used only five players at a time. The large colleges are busy trying to arrange things so that only teams with big sports programs and big gyms can play each other, so no up-start Iona or Wagner or Georgetown can practice in a McDonough "Dead-End" Gym to upset any Division II, NCAA applecarts. Mr. Kindred I presume, calls this "sports." I call it "greed."
I agreed with Mr. Kindred that the purist philosophy of "no spectators" that built the new Yates Center at Georgetown was a mistake. But it was a philosophic mistake, not one of mere judgment of size and splendor. The "watching" of a game is an intrinsic part of the playing of it in a way, the closest most of us come to contemplation.
If good players only come to colleges because of the luxury of the facilities, we should close them all down. Given a choice between rooting for the kids from a small college with a lousy gym and the semipros in the big-league gyms, the common man instinctively chooses the former. James V. Schall, S. J. Washington, D.C.
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