Happily, the letters and e-mail keep flooding The Sporting Scene. Send more. Here are a few excerpts:
Your comments about America's [lack of] willingness to embrace soccer ["America's Ambivalent Embrace of World Cup," June 12] as a major sport were at best inadequate and poorly researched.
Our stature as a soccer power is growing rapidly and we will be a major contender for the World Cup by 2002. Soccer is here to stay and will be as big as football, baseball, and basketball in a few short years.
George E. Griffin
Thoroughly enjoyed your World Cup column. I am, however, quite surprised that you underestimate the US's chances at any success in its upcoming matches.
The generations of kids playing soccer on the street and on the fields are soon to emerge as the current players are purged. It's only a matter of time for the US to catch up.
I find the Venus Williams story ["Venus Rising," May 22] so interesting because to raise tennis players to the level that Richard Williams has done [with two of his daughters] with his limited tennis background and knowledge is remarkable.
His personal attributes are fairly unattractive but you simply cannot argue with his results. The article did a great job of weighing the strange duality that Williams is.
I quit watching professional basketball games a few years ago because of the violence and thuggery ["When Rule-Busting Becomes the Norm," May 29] that is apparently encouraged and condoned, part and parcel, as part of the entertainment package that is presented by the NBA.
In any true sporting contests, such flagrant and constant flouting of the rules would result in expulsions from the sport and in the cases of some of the more publicized attacks by angry NBA players, people would be arrested for that kind of activity and charged with assault. While the game is often played with passion and can be very frustrating, there is no excuse for that type of incivility in our modern society.
Why don't the officials get into the act and clamp down on the actions of Dennis Rodman and [others]. A series of very large fines would make some difference but basically it comes down to the owners and the managers and the fans, doesn't it?
We believe that the desperation and fervor to win [in professional basketball] and bring profits to the players, managers, team owners, beer and car advertisers, the sportscasters and TV networks has brought about the roughness and rule infractions. Stardom, commercial contracts, profit, and greed are ruining this once clean, artistic, fair, and enjoyable sport.
Gladys and Jim Peterson
Your observations about the failure of the NHL and NBA to bother with the rules obviously are correct and the activity is to be deplored. It is also easily correctable as is proven by the Olympic Games, especially in hockey and to a lesser degree in basketball, where the clutch-and-grab style is not allowed.
It also has been my experience with hockey that the physical play we see, and the fighting, tends to increase with a decline in the skill levels.
Richard C. Crepeau
When my daughter returned at 2 a.m. from her Friday-night outing, I read her your "is the reality ever better than the anticipation?" column [June 5]. She loved it.
The whole sports thing is interesting. When I was growing up in America, my dad and grandfather watched football to the extent I can remember Sunday dinners on TV trays and my boyfriends standing up yelling at the television to spur some player on.
When I went away to university and then moved to San Francisco to work, I found myself turning on the TV football games just for the familiarity. There really is something that in its "actuality" is as good as the anticipation.
Sancy Nason Childs
Rocky Hall, Australia
* Douglas S. Looney's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org