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E.M. Swift hit the nail on the head with his POINT AFTER (May 16). In the NHL the only consistency is inconsistency.

The league is going nowhere with John Ziegler as president. May Swift's words go from his pen to the NHL Board of Governors' ears.

What does SPORTS ILLUSTRATED have against hockey or, more specifically, the NHL? I just finished your harangues in the May 16 issue (Theater of the Absurd and POINT AFTER) and decided I could not stand it anymore. I agree that the whereabouts of NHL president Ziegler during the referee-Jim Schoenfeld crisis was relevant, but calling the NHL a "leaderless joke" and saying the Stanley Cup is now "devalued" is simply wrong and a cheap shot.
Chesterfield, Mo.

As coaches and parents of children heavily involved in competitive athletics, we appreciate the thought-provoking article by Bil Gilbert (Competition: Is It What Life's All About? May 16). We're not sure that there are answers to the large, heavy questions about when and why competitive sport is good or bad. However, we were very much affected by the comment of a 10-year-old boy during a recent Little League game. The game had just been called according to the 10-run rule (if one team leads another by 10 runs or more at the end of five innings, that team wins). However, time permitted another inning, and the coaches agreed that both teams could use a practice inning and that score would not be kept. Up to the plate stepped the 10-year-old. He took a few practice swings, stepped out of the box. eyed the pitcher, scuffed the dirt a bit with one foot and then, with absolute seriousness in his voice, looked up to the plate umpire and asked, "Are we just playing for fun now?" We smiled at his question. We also haven't been able to forget it.
Orem, Utah

As the father of two teenage sons who are active in sports. I feel it is important that we consider more seriously the deleterious effects competition can have on young athletes. Articles like Bil Gilbert's help us keep sports in perspective.

I also enjoyed Rob Day's illustrations. Is there any chance you can show us more?
Altoona, Pa.

•Here's one more. Day painted this picture in response to former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden's statement to Gilbert. "Yes, I think competition can build character. But it can also tear it down."—ED.

I've been coaching elementary school children for 15 years. You summed up my philosophy that children should derive enjoyment from participation in a game, not from the result. I use all of my players in games to give them an opportunity to gain experience and to improve themselves. If encouraged, a child who is the last player off the bench one year could be the first off the bench the next. Granted, our softball team hasn't won any championships, but we have been over .500. Last season one girl who was 1-for-28 on the year, with 22 strikeouts, hit a grand slam against the first-place team. We lost that particular battle, but not the war.
Flushing, N.Y.

I am an elementary school physical-education teacher who is involved in a program of administering a Soviet youth-fitness test to U.S. students for the purpose of comparing the fitness levels of the children from the two countries. Although the program is not a competition, a lot of my children think it is. I believe this feeling of competition is innate. It is a form of self-discovery and is essential to growth and development.
Ridgefield Park, N.J.

I commend Clive Gammon for his outstanding article on the threat gill nets pose to our marine resources (A Sea of Calamities, May 16). Here in California our ocean resources are dwindling at an alarming rate, and a major reason is that the state still permits the use of gill nets by commercial fishermen off our coast.

As Gammon pointed out, the problem with gill nets is that they are indiscriminate in what they catch. Since March 10, at least four endangered California gray whales have become entangled in gill nets, and on March 17 a gray whale died near Los Angeles Harbor after it had become entangled in a gill net. In addition, these nets catch scores of sea lions, porpoises and marlin every year.

This year I introduced legislation to ban gill nets within three miles of Southern California's coastline and to provide incentives for commercial fishermen to convert to less destructive gear.
California Legislature

Through technology, man has gained near-control of his environment. If not properly regulated, this technology can lead to disaster. Gill-netting is breaking the rules of nature, and its practitioners are taking life away for short-term economic gains. If gill-netting is not prohibited, soon Georges Bank and other fishing areas will be devoid of life for good.
Mount Vernon, Wash.

As a commercial fisherman in North Carolina, I take offense at some of the statements made by Clive Gammon. His article was one of the most one-sided I have ever seen.

Comparing six-pack ring holders and gill nets is like comparing apples and oranges. Nothing was ever said about the millions of miles of monofilament line that so-called sports fishermen strip off their reels every day and throw overboard. This line becomes entangled and kills fish, too. I also dispute the implication that commercial fishermen are the reason for declining Gulf king mackerel landings. Nothing is said about sports fishermen, who are allowed a much higher quota (2.31 million pounds for July '88 through June '89) than commercial fishermen (1.09 million pounds for the same period).

The article said nothing about the sophisticated equipment that headboats use to find fish for sports fishermen. They locate fish the same way we do. If they couldn't find the fish, they wouldn't be in business. As for the quality of a gill-net catch, the fish are in much better shape than those caught in trawl nets or by some other ways of fishing. If fished correctly, gill-net fish are of very high quality.

I feed my family with the income from the fish I catch. I can assure you that we commercial fishermen are very concerned about our resource. On the other hand, I have watched sports fishermen catch bluefish by the thousands and leave them on the beach to rot. Sports fishermen have a lot of money and use it to lobby for their self-interest.
Buxton, N.C.

Who is Clive Gammon? After reading his story, I see a sports fisherman who doesn't like competition from the commercial fishing industry and wants the commercial gear banned. He quotes the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, but some of us familiar with the NCMC are convinced that this group wants all the marine resources it can get for the sports fishermen, and to heck with the consumer.

Sure, some gill-net operators are guilty of abuses, but you don't condemn an entire segment of society because of what a small percentage of the participants do. If we commercial fishermen and sports fishermen weren't yelling at each other all the time, we might find a way to cooperate with each other.
Executive Director
Southeastern Fisheries Association, Inc.
Tallahassee, Fla.



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