Reading E.M. Swift's article on SI's Sportsmen of the Year (A Reminder of What We Can Be, Dec. 22-29) brought tears to my eyes. However, my tears were shed for all the high school. Junior, Pee Wee and Midget hockey players who will now be subjected to a plethora of "Herbies" and forced to endure cruel and harsh treatment from coaches who share Herb Brooks' perspective on winning. I submit that the U.S. hockey team would have achieved even greater heights without the handicap of having to cope with Brooks' coaching philosophy. Does Brooks' coaching strategy truly epitomize the American spirit? I say emphatically no!
West Hartford, Conn.
Much of what you purport to deplore in amateur athletics could be remedied more easily if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and others stopped expressing boundless admiration for overbearing jerks like U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach Herb Brooks.
A. PETER HOLLIS
My compliments to E.M. Swift on his brilliant article on the U.S. Olympic hockey team. I also know the meaning of "Herbies" and sympathize with the players. As one who has played youth hockey in Massachusetts, I can attest to the sheer brutality of doing Herbies early Saturday and Sunday mornings after a particularly galling loss the preceding night. One Saturday morning, when the temperature was hovering around five degrees below zero, we repeatedly did Herbies—or leg killers, as we called them—until we almost died of exhaustion. And this was the start of practice. At the conclusion, we did another six. Needless to say, this woke us up and we hammered the opposition the next night.
La Grange, Ga.
Hats off to Herb Brooks and to Minnesota Viking Coach Bud Grant (When the Dust Cleared, It Was Minnesota, Dec. 22-29). I can't think of many things more inspirational in sports than the way these two have shown how the underdog is never out of it. Perhaps Brooks and Grant can be faulted for their methodologies, their aloofness and their individuality—but they know how to take young men whom "knowledgeable" sports scribes write off and do the impossible with them. If that's not what coaching is all about, then tell me what is.
Bob McMahon's analysis of the best and worst sports towns (SCORECARD, Dec. 15) is extremely misleading. How dare he suggest that on the mere basis of percentage of seats filled Cleveland is the worst sports town?
The Browns regularly draw 75,000 to 80,000 fans. And how many cities have 10,000 fans show up at an airport in the middle of the night to welcome their football team home after a victory—especially when the win (over Houston) wasn't even in a playoff game?
As for the Cavs, in the 1975-76 season, when they almost went all the way, they set an NBA playoff attendance record of 21,564 (capacity for the Coliseum) and matched it in three subsequent playoff games.
The Indians have drawn more than a million in attendance the past two years, had more than 200,000 fans at one series last summer and have the largest opening-day crowd in the majors every year. Saying that Boston is a better sports town than Cleveland when Fenway Park holds fewer than half the people Cleveland Stadium does is absurd. When its teams win, Cleveland is the best sports town on earth.
Isn't it interesting that while Bob McMahon rates Boston as the best sports town in North America, it is reported in the same SCORECARD column that both the Bruins and the Celtics might move to a new sports complex in Salem, N.H.?
The best pro sports town is Houston.
Your Dec. 22-29 lead article on the revival of the Phoenix Suns (Phoenix Goes on the Attack) cites Forward Jeff Cook as one of those primarily responsible. However, it nowhere says that Cook was the center at Idaho State from 1976 to 1978, during which time Idaho State defeated UCLA in the Western Regionals of the NCAA Championships. Moreover, several weeks ago you highlighted the national cross-country championships at Pocatello—but didn't mention that they were sponsored by and located at Idaho State (Little Sister Wins a Race of Her Own, Dec. 8).
In previous years, you have mentioned Idaho State football when we lost badly—but not in 1980, when we bounced back better than any other school in NCAA Division IAA—from 0-11 to 6-5. ISU has a contending team in basketball and is doing nicely in football and track, thank you. And remember that Idaho State is the home of the very first Minidome.
The above information has been brought to my attention by our university librarian, Eli M. Oboler, a man who has been cited by his contemporaries on numerous occasions for his attention to detail, and who has been damned by our university news service for the same.
MYRON L. COULTER
Idaho State University
Just when I was about to complain about your lack of coverage of Nordic skiing, John Hildebrand came through with an article that captures the essence of the sport (FIRST PERSON, Dec. 15). Although I wouldn't consider subjecting my body to—10° temperatures, his article relates well to my Nordic skiing experiences in northeast Indiana. Even here the glaciers of the Ice Age have left their mark.
GARY (KICK AND GLIDE) ERVIN
Fort Wayne, Ind.
ME AND MINE
I've read the article by that Michael Baugh-man guy on tide-pool fishing in Oregon (FOOTLOOSE, Dec. 15). His arrogant attitude about Californians makes me sick! My brother Bob is an Oregonian (via Washington) with an identical attitude. He thinks every tree and fish is their personal property, not to be shared with Californians. Where does Baughman get his selfishness? Bob gets his from Dad. who emigrated to Kansas from the Tyrol. Dad tended to pull the ladder up behind himself, too. I think Oregon resources should be available for all to share—even Californians.
Uh-oh. I hear shots on the north forty. I'd better get up there. Those blankety-blanks from Missouri are always after my quail.
CARDS ON THE TABLE (CONT.)
I can assure you that reader Kevin T. Pesta (19TH HOLE, Dec. 22-29) isn't crazy just because he has his Strat-O-Matic Baseball cards run laps around the kitchen table after a bad game. In my law school league at the University of Michigan, team managers routinely brought their cards down to the law school cafeteria for team meals.
MICHAEL A. MARRERO
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building. Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.