The Decline of Sportsmanship
I have long been a fan of Rick Reilly's writing, but what really turned me on was his Point After on spoilsports (Jan. 11). This article should be posted on the locker room bulletin board of every high school, college and pro team.
JOHN W. HAMILTON
How I yearn for a touchdown without the dance, for a sack or tackle without the arms up. Please leave your helmet on. Go back to the huddle. Play the game. Let me decide if I wish to cheer you for doing that for which you are overpaid. I love the games but am getting sick of the athletes.
The problem isn't restricted to sports. In a society in which the dollar has replaced honor and pride as seemingly the only way to gain respect, we nurture unsportsmanlike behavior in every walk of life. We should take a hard look at ourselves before we chastise sports.
Who killed sportsmanship in this country? Was it sportswriters like Rick Reilly who, because they don't like Colorado football coach Bill McCartney's political views or the fact that McCartney expresses them, suggest that he is a Nazi (Bowled Over, Bowled Out, Jan. 11)? Thoughtless cheap shots are as dangerous to good journalism as they are to good sportsmanship.
JOHN P. ROGERS
Glen Cove, N.Y.
Jill Lieber's article about John Lucas, the new coach of the San Antonio Spurs (Image of Hope, Jan. 11), is the best that I have read on what has to be one of the greatest comeback stories of all time. She really captured the essence of Lucas.
A footnote to the article concerns the action photo on page 48 of Lucas playing for Maryland. The Syracuse player in the picture is Dennis (Sweet D) DuVal, who was one of four college stars featured in a Nov. 12, 1973, story by Rick Telander (They Always Go Home Again) who spent their summers honing their games on playgrounds in and around New York City. The others were John Shumate, Fly Williams and Brian Winters.
DuVal is another comeback story. All-America at Syracuse, he had a brief, disappointing NBA career with the Washington Bullets and the Atlanta Hawks. He was also victimized by his agent, who mismanaged his money, leaving DuVal in debt. DuVal gave up his dream of an NBA career and joined the Syracuse police department as a patrolman. Two years ago he was appointed deputy chief of the department, a position he holds today. There is life after basketball for Dennis DuVal.
I enjoyed watching John Lucas when he was a Golden State Warrior and respected his heads-up play. I respect him even more now and wish him the best. But we shouldn't forget to give credit to Spur owner Red McCombs. He gave a good man a golden opportunity.
Out of Sync
I read with interest Leigh Montville's article, Home Alone, Two (Jan. 11), about synchronized swimmer Kristen Babb-Sprague and her husband, Ed Sprague, of the Toronto Blue Jays. Babb-Sprague is not responsible for the mistake of the Brazilian judge in the synchronized swimming competition at the Barcelona Olympics, but her rationalization of that mistake is entirely self-serving.
I am dumbfounded and disgusted that a recognized and reported mistake was simply disregarded. It is unfortunate that Babb-Sprague could not have earned a few positive lines in Reilly's Point After in the same issue for having properly addressed the injustice that took place in her event. Instead we are left with her assurance that after reviewing the videotape, she is convinced that she deserved the gold.
Fort Collins, Colo.
So Babb-Sprague's joy was "tempered by the press conference after the medal ceremony." Well, fiddledeedee. Who was asking those tough questions, the media or her conscience? As Babb-Sprague would say, Here's what I think happened. Of course she knew she was undeserving and probably wrestled with her conscience for a while. But then she adopted the concept so dear to today's wrongdoers—constantly repeating that she hadn't done anything wrong. And like the others, she has cleansed her soul in the process.
Babb-Sprague and her family have chosen their own version of what happened, but millions of people know the real one. She deserved a gold medal all right—about as much as the 1972 Soviet basketball team deserved one.
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