Letters

June 06, 2004

L.A. Story

Enough about the Lakers already (The Center Cannot Hold, May 17).
I understand the Lakers are an interesting story because of how
dysfunctional they are; however, for all I know Wilt Chamberlain
could rise from the dead and lead Minnesota to the title and you
would probably give that no more than a page of coverage. You'd
be too busy giving in-depth analysis of the Lakers' last
shootaround.
Nick High, Fort Washington, Pa.

Being Barry

I just read your article on this baseball player named Barry
Bonds (A Season like No Other, May 17). His accomplishments seem
unbelievable. Even though it isn't April 1, this must be another
Sidd Finch-type story.
Michael Prizer, Fountain Valley, Calif.

The photograph of Roger Clemens walking Bonds is totally out of
context with that game. I was there, and we all wanted to see
Roger pitch to Barry. But on Bonds's first at bat the game
situation dictated that he be walked. Roger struck him out on his
next two at bats. It was fantastic to watch those two future Hall
of Famers face off. And the respect that they showed each other
during their interviews after the game was equally impressive.
Bruce Evans, Austin

I find Bonds's comments about Clemens's contract, which allows
him to miss certain road trips when he's not scheduled to pitch,
to be bigoted and ignorant. Clemens doesn't have the clause in
his contract because he is white--it's because he's a starting
pitcher who plays every fifth day (unlike an outfielder who plays
every day).
Michael A. McQuade, San Antonio

Bonds says, "It's wearing me down.... I'm on the bases the whole
time or in the field.... It's a hard-ass job." No, Barry, it's
not. Ask a farmer, a meatpacker or, better yet, a soldier.
Everything that I've ever thought about Bonds was confirmed in
that one paragraph. If it's too tough for you, Barry, take a
seat. I think you'll find plenty of people who will trade jobs.
Peter Minor
Franklin, Mass.

Knight Exemplar

I found Listen Up, Grads!, Rick Reilly's tongue-in-cheek advice
to college graduates (The Life of Reilly, May 17), amusing save
for one line. Using a guy like Bob Knight--who has consistently
graduated players and never had a hint of scandal in more than 30
years of coaching--as a moral compass might actually do graduates
some good down the road.
William Buhr, Chicago

Money Matters

Your group of articles (They're in the Money, May 17) on the
compensation of athletes is a prime example of why I no longer
attend professional sporting events. Why should I pay inflated
ticket prices to subsidize the opulent and excessive lifestyles
of a bunch of overpaid underachievers? Instead, I take the money
that I would spend on sports and donate it to charities, which
appreciate it much more than any millionaire athlete or owner
would.
Vincent C. Maglio, Mesa, Ariz.

Put the incomes of the Fortunate 50 together, and you top $1
billion ($1,050,085,511 to be exact). This is almost equal to
Mongolia's gross domestic product. The truly sad thing is that it
is ultimately the fans--paying high prices for tickets, shoes and
bags of chips--who support these outrageous salaries.
Steven J. Swoap, Williamstown, Mass.

Although your list of the top 50 highest-paid athletes was quite
interesting--and depressing--it could have been titled The 50
Worst Investments Made by Owners. Out of the 50 athletes noted,
40 of them are on a team sport. Of the 40 team-sport athletes,
only seven have championship rings. Seven out of 40? Nice
investing!
Paul Mazzuca, Fox River Grove, Ill.

Good juxtaposition: your coverage of the memorial service of Pat
Tillman (Leading Off, May 17) and the vulgarity and excess of
overpaid athletes. How sad that people all over the world are
living in cardboard boxes or worse, and some athlete has to have
a 30,000-square-foot house. It's also noteworthy that only two
women have been raised to the apotheosis of money in sport.
Thanks for telling the whole story.
Ann Burns, Atlanta

I think your readers would be more impressed with a competition
on who gives the most away, not on who throws the most away.
Maureen Ganley, Baldwinsville, N.Y.

Two days before I received the issue featuring the 50 richest
American athletes, my employer announced plans to lay off 500
people--more than a third of the local workforce. After I read
your article, it occurred to me that Peyton Manning's annual
compensation is more than the combined yearly salaries of all 500
people being fired. I think Manning is one of the classiest, most
talented individuals ever to play in the NFL, but as my coworkers
and I contemplate uncertain futures, wondering how we'll feed our
families, the compensation these 50 athletes receive for playing
games seems ludicrous. What the heck have we sports fans created?
Steve Kleinpeter, Baton Rouge

Mortal Sins

It's disappointing to see Alan Shipnuck claim that Tiger Woods is
more "human" during his slump since he's been "repeatedly beaten
up by the game." (SCORECARD, May 24). So, if you're on a winning
streak, you're not a human--but if you have a bad season, well
then, welcome to the ranks of the pathetic human race? Surely, if
there's one thing that SI has demonstrated over the years, it's
that victory and glory are at least as representative of the
human condition as failure. The implication that to be in a slump
makes athletes "more human" is insulting and detracts from the
accomplishments they make.
Christal McDougall, Boulder, Colo.

Holistic Treatment

With apologies to Rick Reilly, the first place I look when I get
my SI is Gorjus George Lucas's The Hole Story (Golf Plus). The
insights he provides on key PGA Tour holes each week are
tremendous, and the personal stories he shares from his years of
following the PGA Tour are hilarious. You can feel his passion
for the game.
Chad Goetsche, Omaha

Going Public

I think Mike Hebron is a great teacher, and I have taken his
one-day seminars on two occasions (Golf Plus, May 17). But I
really have to object to his touting of Friar's Head. This is
just what we need, another private course on Long Island that
99.99% of the golfing population can't play. I'll take Bethpage
Black any day. At least I get to play it once or twice a year.
John R. Lennon, Holtsville, N.Y.

Indy Driver

As a teenage girl who reads your magazine, I was pleasantly
surprised to see an article about Jamaal Tinsley (Jamaal Is on
the Ball, May 17). I am a huge supporter of Iowa State and don't
miss many games. I remember being about 11 and cheering for
Jamaal while watching on the couch with my dad. To see him making
it in the NBA is awesome.
Helen Tobin
Clive, Iowa

After reading about Tinsley, I am amazed at the accomplishments
of the Indiana Pacers point guard. As Ian Thomsen wrote, "Though
he had rarely attended high school, Tinsley made a life-changing
decision and earned his GED while attending Mount San Jacinto
(Calif.) College. He played two years there." But how is it an
athlete can play college basketball having never finished high
school? Apparently education is secondary if a student can
dribble a basketball or throw a football.
Andrew Selepak, Montclair, Va.

To Boo or Not to Boo

Phil Taylor writes in Air and Space (May 17) that Kings fans
booed Chris Webber for his lackluster play while he was
recovering from an injury. Not me. My Bronx cheers were for the
wreckage Webber has left in Michigan, Golden State, Washington,
D.C., and soon in Sacramento (lest we forget that C-Webb also was
returning from a suspension for violating the league's substance
abuse policy). In short, I booed Webber because he has not once
shown that he has an ounce of character.
Kenneth C. Fisher, Roseville, Calif.

Taylor writes that "there is no pro athlete for whom the boo is
taboo." Well, Phil, so far Mario Lemieux is doing a good job
proving that statement false. I've had Pittsburgh Penguins season
tickets since 1984 (the year in which Mario entered the NHL), and
I can't recall any game in which Lemieux was booed. It's called
respect and loyalty.
Brian J. Gefsky, Pittsburgh

Priceless

Once again the great game of hockey is proving that unlike most
other professional team sports, you don't purchase a
championship, you earn it (They Should Not Win, May 17). Go
Flames!
Chris Mason, Toronto

Broadcast News

So Steve Rushin (AIR AND SPACE, May 10) says "Al Michaels may be
the best all-around play-by-play announcer ever." Obviously
Rushin never heard Kern Tips, Al Helfer, Vin Scully, Keith
Jackson, Ron Franklin, Mike Patrick or Jon Miller.
Ian Foley, Round Rock, Texas

Plane Crazy

Nevada gets featured and not even a mention of the Reno Air Races
(Sports in America, May 24)? It may not be NASCAR, but airplane
racing is unique and one of the most visually exciting sports
there is.
Jim Hannon, Pittsburgh

The Racer's Edge

Although I was pleased to see F/1 coverage in your May 17 issue
(SCORECARD), Michael Schumacher's dominance must be brought into
question. While there is no doubt he is a talented driver, he has
won most of his titles with little competition and vastly
superior equipment. Especially in the past four seasons
Schumacher has driven a car so much better than that of his
rivals that other drivers routinely qualify more than one second
off his pace. His team's budget is over $400 million, easily
besting any other team's in the field. To equate Schumacher with
the best drivers of all time is like saying that Phil Jackson is
automatically the best basketball coach of all time just because
the Lakers are always in contention. Yes, the driver or coach is
important, but what you're given to work with is equally so.
Mark Reif, Winchester, Va.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK COLOR PHOTO: FOTOSPORTS/SPORTSTOCK (WOODS) FELINE UNGROOVY Tiger Woods hasn't won a PGA stroke play tournament this season. COLOR PHOTO: RABIH MOGHRABI/AFP/GETTY WELL-EQUIPPED Schumacher has won the last four F/1 drivers' titles.

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