Letters

December 30, 2002

Getting the Pictures

Kudos for running the Faces of the NFL (Dec. 9) portfolio. Walter
Iooss Jr. is one of the greatest sports photographers of all
time. Thank you, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, for continuing to set a high
standard for photography.
JED CARLSON, Superior, Wis.

Why are you dedicating valuable space to promoting the tired
notion that attitude--especially macho attitude--is America's
image du jour? Your Faces of the NFL brought the men-to-boyz
phenomenon to a new low. Some of these stars are great guys, but
in your piece they all look like little kids posing as toughs. As
one who's sick to death of all the 'tude going around, I ask, why
such a piece in SI?
JOHN DIEBEL, Grosse Pointe, Mich.

Did Iooss ask the NFL stars not to smile, or were they just
worried about penalties for excessive celebration?
HUNTER WALK, San Francisco

Reefer Madness

No economic imperative for pro sports to get tough on pot
(Scorecard, Dec. 9)? How about impaired coordination and
concentration, or shouldn't we expect those basic physical
attributes to be available in a multimillion-dollar player? You
could also have noted memory impairment and loss of visual
acuity, but who needs that stuff? Aren't you even curious why
high school girls can shoot free throws better than NBA pros do?
I'm waiting to hear some TV commentator get honest in a postgame
interview and ask a player something like, "You missed five free
throws in a row down the stretch there--was that from the pot you
smoked last night?"
MARK YOUNG, Sioux Falls, S.Dak.

The prevalence of marijuana use among professional athletes must
make drug cops sick with fear. They have tried to make us believe
that marijuana makes you stupid and lazy. The fact that so many
athletes use marijuana and are still able to compete at the
highest levels of sports makes these claims sound even more
absurd.
MATTHEW HOGG, Burlington, Vt.

Giving Thanks

The account of the Kirkwood-Webster Groves high school rivalry
was an outstanding piece of Americana I won't soon forget (The
Game of a Lifetime, Dec. 9). I felt as if I had participated in
the pep rallies, heard the locker room speeches and cheered in
the stands. Both teams and cities left that field winners. What a
great story to end a great series of articles!
BRIAN FOSTER, Olathe, Kans.

I had the honor and the privilege of participating in two Turkey
Day games for the Pioneers. We won in my junior season but
regrettably lost the Bell in my senior year. Today, tossing a
football around with my son almost always ends with three neatly
run pass routes and receptions: the first to win the Turkey Day
game for Kirkwood, the second to beat Kansas for the Missouri
Tigers and the last to win the Super Bowl for the Rams. The first
one is still the sweetest.
BRUCE S. CHAPMAN St. Louis

My adult friends who didn't grow up in Kirkwood or Webster
Groves, Mo., may now understand why the Turkey Day game remains a
topic of excited conversation this time of year, even though I
live 250 miles away and am 28 years beyond high school
graduation. The game is as much about shared values, community
history, pride and generational bonding as it is about the score.
However, the bragging rights that come with having the Bell will
be enjoyed all year by Kirkwood High School graduates around the
globe.
DARCY A. HOWE, Kansas City, Mo.

Thanks to SI and Mark Bowden for the article on the Thanksgiving
Day rivalry between Kirkwood and Webster Groves. I graduated from
Kirkwood in 1948, and it brought back vivid memories of sitting
on the hard and windswept bleachers in the cold or rain watching
my buddies do battle. However, I couldn't find what the won-lost
records are after all these years. Perhaps it isn't the most
important element, but I am curious.
ROBERT L. FRANZ, Placentia, Calif.
--Webster Groves leads 45-36-6. --ED.

As I read The Game of a Lifetime, all the horrors of my workweek
faded away and were replaced by memories of getting up on
Thanksgiving morning, tying orange and blue ribbons in my
pigtails, making orange-and-blue yarn pom-poms to tie on my
shoelaces, taking five dollars of my birthday money and traipsing
off with all my friends to the yearly Turkey Day game. I can
remember wearing two pairs of socks to keep my feet warm,
drinking hot chocolate and cheering until I could no longer
speak. Imagine my delight when I read that my high school rivalry
is one of the 15 oldest active in the U.S.
TAMMI COOPER, Vineland, N.J.

Every year during my brief tenure as coach and teacher at
Kirkwood, my family would ask, Why don't you come home for
Thanksgiving? Impossible, I would tell them. Now they understand
why. Bowden captured every aspect of this tradition with honesty
and poise. I am out of education, but every year my thoughts turn
to roaming the sideline again, coaching young athletes to be
their best on the field and returning home on Thanksgiving to
stuff myself and offer thanks.
DAN ZEMKE, Tulsa

On the Mark

I gave the Mark Messier article (The Late Shift, Dec. 9) to my
10year-old son, who has played travel hockey for the past six
years, and told him to read it for the work ethic that Messier
represents. He did and a day later gave it back to me and said,
"Dad, I get it. Let's go to practice."
KEVIN COULSTING, Huntington, N.Y.

A minor leaguer trying to make the Boston Bruins gives Messier a
clean check, and the response is a cheap-shot elbow that could
have severely injured the kid. What a leader, what a role model,
what a class act.
MARC NICOLS, Deer Park, N.Y.

Roundball Reverie

Steve Rushin's column about basketball is perfect (AIR AND SPACE,
Dec. 9). It is about time someone has paid homage to the finest
American sport. Maybe today's crybaby superstars should be made
to read this article, to remember what the game is all about.
PETE MCCOUBREY, Wakefield, Mass.

Driver's Education

I volunteer at a halfway house for 10 teenage boys who have just
been released from juvenile detention, and Rick Reilly's article
about Donald Driver (The Life of Reilly, Dec. 9) gives me faith
that these kids can still achieve anything they want. I will
bring this article to the kids to show them that--no matter what
mistakes they've already made--there is still hope that they can
make their dreams reality. Driver's story will definitely
motivate at least 10 young men to get on the right track.
DANIEL KAMINS, Rochester, N.Y.

It's an intriguing tale about Driver--going from living in the
back of a U-Haul to the millions of the NFL. Now that he has
signed a contract worth more than $10 million, will he be buying
cars for the people he once stole them from?
JARED PARCELL, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Love for Sail

Richard Hoffer makes it clear that he thinks billionaires
spending $80 million for a three-year campaign to win the
America's Cup is foolish (Ships of Fools, Dec. 2). How does he
feel about paying ARod $252 million to play baseball for 10
years? He makes fun of the fact that the boats are towed, not
sailed, out to the race course. Does he believe that Tony Stewart
or Michael Schumacher should drive their race cars from one event
to the next?
STEPHEN A. WEEBER, Miamisburg, Ohio

The America's Cup races have become mostly about money, ego and
technology. However, anyone who has ever raced a sailboat of any
size or shape and knows what it means to blow a start or lose
control of a spinnaker rounding the downwind mark cannot help but
thrill at the sight of those beautiful boats--with their acres of
sail and tons of lead floated by fragile, Kevlar-coated
hulls--going one-on-one in a competition that will not always be
won by the fastest boat, the best sailor or even by the richest
man.
JIM ABELSON, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Olympic Hardball

According to MLB's vice president of baseball operations, Sandy
Alderson, a five-or six-day Olympic baseball tournament could
involve major league players (SCORECARD, Dec. 9). Who does he
think he's kidding? There is no way an MLB player would be
willing to conform to the Olympic random drug-testing
requirements. Oh, wait, Don Fehr is on the USOC now; maybe we can
expect him to water down Olympic doping enforcement until it's as
meaningless as baseball's.
RANDALL BLUME, Marlton, N.J.

Oops

I enjoyed Mary Roach's article about her experiences as a
mascot-in-training (Tricks of the Trade, Dec. 16) but was turning
backflips trying to find the school's name.
HARVEY NATHAN, New York City

--Although Mary Roach took the course in Wichita, the school, Pro
Mascot, is based in Gautier, Miss. --ED.

A Team Effort

Thank you for the great four-part series about high school
athletes (Nov. 18--Dec. 9). This picture, from The Daily News
Tribune (Waltham, Mass.), shows my brother, Waltham High football
coach Dan Keohane (center), leading his team in shoveling the
field before its Thanksgiving Day game. We celebrated the 100th
anniversary of Waltham football that day with a 12--0 win over
Brockton. Whatever the future holds for these players and the
coaches, I know the memory of the snow, the three-hour cleaning
job and the game will always remind them of what teamwork can
accomplish.
MARY ELLEN RYAN, Waltham, Mass.

A Pioneering Pitcher

SI missed an opportunity to reflect on the passing of one of
baseball's impact players, Dave McNally, 60, who died on Dec. 1
in Billings, Mont. McNally, named by SI as the "Greatest Sports
Figure" from Montana in the 20th century, had an illustrious
career with the Baltimore Orioles, pitching in four World
Series--two of which the Orioles won--and was named to three
All-Star teams. He won 20 or more games in four straight seasons
from 1968 to '71, and he remains the only pitcher to have hit a
grand slam in the World Series. McNally was also involved in the
landmark legal victory that led to baseball's free-agent era and
multimillion-dollar salaries. In '75 he teamed with Andy
Messersmith in the grievance that toppled the sport's century-old
reserve clause, giving veteran players the right to choose their
teams. The average MLB salary has risen from $44,676 in 1975 to
$2,295,694 today.
BRIAN PARKER, Gurnee, Ill.

COLOR PHOTO: ERIN BURGOYNE COLOR PHOTO: AP Dave McNally

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