As an Illinois alumnus whose bloodlines are both European and Native American, I can respect the supporters as well as the opponents of Chief Illiniwek, the university's symbol (VIEWPOINT, Sept. 17). Franz Lidz correctly notes that "Native Americans seem more weary than angry" with Indian symbols. Native Americans wisely recognize that insensitivity and ignorance should not be equaled with institutional racism. I will always revere Chief Illiniwek as a noble symbol of America's great legacy, while decrying those who dismiss the debate as silly.
Illinois's official symbol is not a cartoon character, and recent efforts by the university to put a stop to such unauthorized characterizations of Illiniwek should be encouraged. Such efforts were unfortunately omitted from Lidz's article.
JAMES R. CONLEY, JR.
Lidz's VIEWPOINT was long overdue, and I hope it was an eye-opener for many readers. Chief Illiniwek is but one example among many. Racist, degrading figures that demean the American Indian are commonplace throughout collegiate and professional sports.
PAUL L. PATCHEL
I have never understood this disgraceful irony: Washington, D.C., repository of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, has a team called the Redskins.
CRAIG A. ROCKHOLD
Mountain View, Calif.
•THE BOTTOM LINE
In INSIDE THE NFL (Sept. 24), Peter King says Miami wide receiver Jim Jensen is the lowest-paid player in the NFL at $0. Since Jensen isn't getting paid, who is the league's lowest-paid player?
ALLEN S. MARKULIN
•The NFL Players Association says that the minimum annual salary for an active player is $50,000, but that no one is making that little. Though league salaries are usually not disclosed, there's an undrafted first-year free agent making somewhere between $52,000 and $55,000, probably the current lowest-paid player.—ED.
Hats off to SI for recognizing the football-manufacturing capital of the world and the most underappreciated town in the NFL (Focus, Sept. 10). Pittsburgh may have its Steelers and Chicago its Bears, but without the pigskins from Ada, Ohio, autumn Sunday afternoons would not be the same. As a proud alumnus of Ohio Northern University in Ada, I am glad to see the town get credit for its part in the game.
KEITH D. FREEDMAN
Ada may not be the cultural center of northwest Ohio, but I think our town got poor treatment in your story. Ada is a good place to raise a family, and the people are friendly and helpful. Yes, we could use a real restaurant. We do get tired of hamburger and pizza places. However, if everyone looked at Ada in the light of your article, I doubt anyone would consider starting one.
•FRIDAY NIGHT FEVER
As H.G. Bissinger's excellent article about football at Permian High in Odessa illustrates (Friday Night Lights, Sept. 17), life in no other state revolves around those good ol' Friday nights as much as life in the state of Texas.
I went to Piano Senior High, a rival of Odessa Permian for the state championship in 1987, when we eliminated Permian from the quarter finals. I recall what a terrific ballcarrier Boobie Miles was. When he was playing, everyone knew him, but once he was injured, he was a forgotten man. Athletes have to realize someone better always comes along. Who knows whether Boobie's football career is over? But his life isn't. He needs an education. I wish him the best.
I find it bewildering that so many otherwise normal people can place such importance on the athletic fortunes of a group of 15-to 18-year-old boys. Do these people have an existence so mundane they find it necessary to live their lives through these kids?
DAVID R. PETERSON
•THE NEW LOOK
What a breath of fresh air Pete Sampras is, not only for tennis but for all of sport as well (Upset Time, Sept. 17). I hope he wins a dozen more U.S. Opens. As for Andre Agassi, the change in him is disappointing. My wife, Peggy, sums him up best:
So, he has to dye that shoulder-length hair. O.K.
So, he has to take the court needing a shave. O.K.
So, he has to sport an earring. O.K.
So, he has to wear gaudy outfits for endorsement purposes. O.K.
So, he has to disrobe and toss his apparel to his fans. O.K.
O.K. to any one of the above, but all of them? Heaven forbid. Welcome, Pete Sampras. May you remain as you are and reign a long time.
JAMES E. GARRETSON, JR.
•The same mail that brought the above letter also brought the above drawing, from Walker Cain of New York City.—ED.
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