Letters

April 29, 2007

The No. 1 State

Could you please take a satellite photo of the state of Florida and put it on your cover? With championships in every major professional team sport (Marlins in 2003, Bucs '02, Lightning '04, Heat '06) and several college champions (Miami football '01, Florida basketball '06 and '07, Florida football '06) in this decade, isn't it time for the entire state to be formally jinxed?
Jeff Grotenhuis, Slinger, Wis.

I would agree with the word pounds in your April 9 cover line "Florida Pounds Ohio State to Win National Title (Sound Familiar?)," but only if it refers to the collective hacking of Ohio State center Greg Oden by the Florida players.
Vlad Kapustin, Dublin, Ohio

I am a huge Michigan Wolverines fan. Congratulations to the Gators not only for winning back-to-back basketball titles and a football title in between but also for becoming my second-favorite university!
Matthew Luke, Hobart, Ind.

Grant Wahl wrote, "As he left the Georgia Dome floor on Monday, [Joakim] Noah gazed skyward and issued a plea. 'Remember us! Remember us!' he screamed to the heavens. 'We belong with the great ones!'" The great ones don't scream like banshees to be remembered.
Pam Mason, Lawrenceville, N.J.

Should we be surprised that Joakim and the Gators brought home a second championship trophy? Any Sunday-school student could have told you that Noah liked to collect things two by two.
Axel W. Kyster, Bradbury, Calif.

Little Rock Central
This Florida Gator, class of '86, could not wait for your April 9 issue to arrive. But the real treat inside was Gary Smith's story on the 1957 Little Rock Central football team (Blindsided by History), which made me forget all about my alma mater. I've been living in Little Rock for only three years, but I could feel myself walking down the halls of Central High, wondering if I would have had the courage to "do the right thing." Suddenly three Florida national championships seemed so small. Thank you for high-quality journalism and for always keeping things in perspective.
Ron Proleika, Little Rock

Gary Smith's attempt to make heroes out of football players who remained silent during the integration of Little Rock Central should not go unchallenged. It is far too easy for former players to say what they would have done if they could do it over. History is full of regrets and wishes. History is also full of acts. We can only judge these players by what they did or didn't do at the time. Smith tries to defend them by calling their experience "complicated." The "complicated" lives were the ones of those who lived and died in fear.
Andy Morales, Tucson

I know each of the Little Rock Nine personally, and I lived just a few blocks from Central High—so close that I could hear the troops as they mustered in the mornings. The memories flooded back as I read the account of that great football team and how their lives were affected by the events of that time. We all went through so much. Thanks for giving us such poignant insight into the emotions of those students and for helping us to see the rest of the story.
Charles H. Shockley, Lee's Summit, Mo.

Thanks for Gary Smith's extraordinary story, but I think calling Little Rock Central "the best high school football team in America that year" is a mistake. An all-white high school team could run up a great record against other all-white teams, but it would have had trouble consistently beating the top integrated teams from states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.
Dennis Block, Park Rapids, Minn.

Different Strokes
As I read your article about Michael Phelps (Mind Boggling, April 9), the only thing I could think was, Why is he not included with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer in the conversation about who most dominates his respective sport? Phelps's winning seven gold medals at the world championship is the equivalent of Woods's winning the Masters by 20 strokes or Federer's winning the French Open without losing a set. What Phelps did is more remarkable than Mark Spitz's 1972 Olympic performance because Phelps was breaking world records—which he had previously set—by up to two seconds.
D.J. Kadamus, Garden City, N.Y.

Let's not dethrone Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals and set seven world records at the 1972 Munich games. His performance is still unsurpassed.
Carolyn Finneran, Gig Harbor, Wash.

Mr. Nice Guy
To be the best at your sport and still keep a level head seems to be next to impossible for today's athletes. But it appears that young Roger Federer (LIFE OF REILLY, April 9) has somehow succeeded in being nice, supportive and generous in a sporting world where "me, me and me" are typically a superstar athlete's top three priorities. Sign me up for my first-ever fan club.
Bob Puthoff, Cincinnati

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PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGH

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