Thanks for the article about college football officials (Glaring Mistakes, Oct. 29). My father, James Augustyn, is a Big Ten official. He has been officiating for nearly 24 years, the last 12 in major college leagues. The season for him and the other officials I've met is not 11 but 52 weeks long. They spend many hours the year round studying, working out, and in rules meetings, discussion groups and film sessions. Douglas S. Looney described it as devotion to the game; I would say that it borders on obsession.
Perfection is difficult to attain under the watchful eyes of TV cameras and millions of spectators. Let's hear it for the men in the zebra stripes!
Glaring Mistakes was a welcome vindication of college football officiating. As an attorney who has practiced for 50 years, I can only wish that judges and juries had the same percentage of accuracy as these oft-maligned, dedicated citizens.
Little Rock, Ark.
Being wrong only 3% of the time isn't what I feel the public is upset about, but rather the type of mistakes that accounted for some of that 3%. This is why I feel that instant replay, if only for the fourth quarter, would make a difference. No game should be decided on a bad call.
Why not tell everybody to stop the whining. College football officials are not trying to make errors. When mistakes, even glaring ones, are no longer part of amateur sports, all of us might as well stay home and watch canned computer programs.
The latest winner of the U.S. Open, Pete Sampras (Focused, Oct. 22), gives us hope that the U.S. will have, for the first time in many years, a men's international tennis champion of whom we can be proud.
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Not long ago Americans were lamenting that no young U.S. male tennis stars were in sight. Then came three: Andre Agassi, Michael Chang and now Pete Sampras. All have different styles, personalities and games.
I'm a fan of all three. I can enjoy watching them equally because I don't compare them to one another. Agassi will never be a Sampras, and vice versa. Chang will never sport neon and an earring on the court. I realize some comparisons are inevitable, but please compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges.
Sampras was a patient of mine when he was about 11 or 12 years old and becoming a serious tennis player. I used to kid him about his game. One day he told me that someday he would have his picture on the cover of SI. He was not cocky or arrogant, just confident. He always had a great sense of humor and was a fine young man. It is exciting to see him reach his goal with the support of his super family. Truly a dream come true.
LEWIS J. TURCHI, D.D.S.
Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
Gary Smith's VIEWPOINT (Oct. 8) about playing baseball as a kid in the cemetery bordering his backyard brought back fond memories. Our team, the Rebecca Rebels, named after the street we lived on, played both Softball and football in a cemetery. Like Smith, we were chased many times by the man in the black suit and were eventually caught by the police.
I hope that when I go, there will be a ball game for me to watch.
Our home is adjacent to the county cemetery. Some people have said the damnedest things to me about living where I do, but when my 15-year-old son wants to practice his putting or to play soccer with his uncle, he goes behind the house to a yet-unused acre of the cemetery. My daily walk takes me through its grounds.
These unknown neighbors have become our friends. I have often thought how much my father would have loved being laid to rest near where his grandson practices with Dad's old nine-iron. Thanks for the great story.
PATRICIA CASSITY BROSIO
WITH THIS RINK, I THEE...
The hockey puck may be unloved and unappreciated by others (FOCUS, Oct. 8), but to me it has a romantic side.
In 1982, when I was a sophomore at Yale, I was watching a hockey game at Ingalls Rink with a group of friends when, suddenly, a puck came flying off the ice, heading directly toward my face. A very suave fellow in the seat beside me reached out and grabbed it just in time. It was love at first sleight.
Two years after college, Pete and I got married, and the player who hit the puck, Ed McManus, was an usher in our wedding. We still have that hockey puck, of course.
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