Letters

October 27, 2003

Bronc Rider

How can you call Jake Plummer "one of the NFL's most efficient
signal-callers" after only four games (Snake Eyes, Oct. 6)? In
Arizona he was always trying to get out of holes he created for
himself, and after six weeks of play this year, he's 25th in
passing yards. I want him to succeed, but to call him one of the
best quarterbacks in the NFL right now is plain wrong.
Jeffrey Aronson Scottsdale, Ariz.

Child's Play

You were on target in your examination of today's organized youth
sports programs (The American Athlete: Age 10, Oct. 6). The
problems in youth sports are obvious, but there are solutions
that help. Among the most effective initiatives is the Fair Play
method developed by Scott Lancaster and applied to the youth
football programs he runs for the NFL. It eliminates the emphasis
on winning and focuses instead on learning new skills, building
teamwork and self-esteem, and having fun--all the things sports
are supposed to be about. Here's how it works: 1) Make it fun; 2)
Limit standing around; 3) Everyone plays; 4) Teach every position
to every participant; 5) Emphasize the fundamentals; 6)
Incorporate a progression of skill development for every
participant; and 7) Yell encouragement, whisper constructive
criticism. Success requires the active involvement of parents,
coaches and other adults. Let's all work together to give the
games back to the kids.
Boomer Esiason, Garden City Park, N.Y.

The fact that a Center for Sports Parenting even exists ought to
scare the hell out of parents. Instead of teaching our kids about
winning at all costs, we could learn a lot more by just allowing
kids to be kids.
Chuck Chubbuck Stow, Ohio

Cal Ripken Jr. claims to be concerned about adults putting
pressure on 10-year-old children. Then why does the league that
bears his name sponsor nine-and 10-year-old regional and national
tournaments? He seems to be talking out of both sides of his
mouth. Anyone who's been involved in these tournaments
understands the pressure put on these kids to win.
John O'Neill, Norwalk, Conn.

Perhaps the most troubling quote came from the mother who says,
"Our goals seem far-fetched now, but if he puts [in] the effort
from here on ... he'll succeed." In other words, if her son fails
to live up to her lofty expectations, it's his fault because he
didn't try. The nation's therapists must have read the article
with glee, anticipating the thousands of dollars these kids will
be spending on mental health services years from now.
Paul Holmes, New York City

Take This Job

You forgot to mention a fourth option available to Nick Van Exel
(INSIDE THE NBA, Oct. 6). If he is not happy being paid over $10
million to play basketball, he can simply use his college degree
to get a job in the real world.
David Goldberg, New York City

Missing in Action

While all the receivers mentioned in Bigger, Badder, Brasher
(Oct. 6) are talented, there was one notable omission. Michael
Jenkins of Ohio State will break almost every school receiving
record by the end of this season. He's 6'5", 215 pounds, has more
clutch catches than anyone, and he's the only one with a
championship ring.
Jordan Strouse, Westerville, Ohio

George Plimpton

Like so many others who were completely taken in by George
Plimpton's fable of the flame-throwing Sidd Finch (The Curious
Case of Sidd Finch, April 1, 1985), I remain a great admirer of
the story. When I take sports too seriously, I only have to think
about how much I wanted that barefoot fastballer to pitch for the
Red Sox, and then I remember that baseball is only a game.
Plimpton (The Natural, Oct. 6) was a serious writer who helped us
take our sports, and ourselves, a little less seriously.
Peter M. Shapland, Concord, Mass.

Reckless Driving

When I read Hell on Wheels (AIR AND SPACE, Oct.6), I found it
humorous. How different it seems after the death of Dan Snyder of
the Atlanta Thrashers. The column was written lightheartedly, but
I hope everyone--not just athletes--will read it, remember what
happened to Snyder and Dany Heatley and understand that traffic
laws are not suggestions. They can be a matter of life or death.
Vicki Asato, Scottsdale, Ariz.

For the record, that's not Charles Barkley cruising around in a
1990 Toyota Celica with SIR CHLS plates--it's me!
Amy Shaw, Wallingford, Pa.

The Power of Cheese

Cheeseheads an "abomination" (Field of Dreams, Oct. 6)?
Apparently everyone in Wisconsin has not heard of the Official
Cheesehead Band. The brainchild of band director Roger Spindler,
the Mauston High School Marching Band has become a crowd favorite
in parades around southwestern Wisconsin. The band was also a hit
during a recent trip to New Orleans. Band members enjoy the
crowds' favorable reactions to their look and to their music.
Brian McGuire, Mauston, Wis.

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER (COVER) COLOR PHOTO: STEVEN GREENLEE/WISCONSIN DELLS EVENTS SOUNDS GOUDA Mauston High's band plays the blues, and the gorgonzolas.

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