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Original Issue


I don't thinkthat paying admission gives one license to abuse the refs.

The Ref
I was moved by Rick Reilly's article about high school referee Kenny Wilcoxen(When Your Dream Dies, Dec. 26-Jan. 2). As a former college basketball playerand four-sport letterman in high school, I have experienced my share of what Ifelt was poor officiating. It wasn't until I started working college intramuralbasketball games that I began to appreciate how difficult the job is.

Most of thepeople who yell at refs don't understand the game well enough to recognize agood call when it is made. I commend Wilcoxen and others like him for theirdedication and thank them for making the calls night in and night out as theysee them, right or wrong.
DAN McKEON, Bakersfield, Calif.

Reilly's story isone that every coach, player and fan should read. Most officials arehardworking, underpaid individuals who are out there because they love thegame. Coaches who play to the crowd, players who argue every call, and parentsand fans who heap abuse on officials must begin to take responsibility for manyof the problems with organized sports.
JAMES WEDDING, Fordsville, Ky.

The No. 1 problemwith kids' sports today is adults who make the games the focus of life. Nomatter which side of the stripes one is on, everyone—the fan, the player andeven the official—needs to remember it's only a game.
TIM HADLEY, Lubbock, Texas

A referee is theonly impartial person on the field of play. The players, coaches and fans seethings only one way—their way.
GENE F. PISCITELLI JR., Lewisville, N.C.

Shame on theIllinois High School Association for not standing behind Wilcoxen.
PETER J. LYONS, Providence, R.I.

The Bowls
After scoring both the tying and winning touchdowns in the Orange Bowl (GhostBusters, Jan. 9), Cory Schlesinger dropped the ball in the end zone andimmediately went to his Nebraska teammates to celebrate the team success.Miami's players, in stark contrast, consistently practiced sophomoric pufferycelebrating individual success. The best team prevailed and the influence andclass of Tom Osborne, gracious in victory as in defeat, was evident. Perhapstraditional values in sports are making a needed comeback.
GARY J. HERBEK, Smithfield, Va.

It's bad enoughthat the pollsters awarded the national championship to Nebraska because theyfinally won a bowl game after seven losses in a row, but to have SI devote ameasly 1½ pages to Penn State's bowl victory and undefeated season is absurd (ACause Cèlèbre, Jan. 9). Additionally, no mention was made of Joe Paterno'srecord 16th bowl victory and of his becoming the first coach to win all fourmajor bowls. Nebraska fans can celebrate Tom Osborne's first title, but PennState fans will celebrate Paterno's sixth.

One of the nicestmoments of the Miami-Nebraska game occurred when the academic records of theCornhusker offensive linemen were flashed on the television screen—outstanding!It proved that in this instance, at least, there really are somestudent-athletes. (Sad to say, however, there was no corresponding flash of theHurricanes' line.)
JOHN A. MACADIE, Norwich, Conn.

Homage should bepaid to Donnie Webb of the Syracuse, N.Y., Post-Standard, the only AssociatedPress voter to split his No. 1 slot between Penn State and Nebraska. It isabsolutely absurd to crown Nebraska the national champion while leaving theNittany Lions out in the cold. How can the Huskers' perfect season be any moreperfect than Penn State's perfect season? Who's to say that Penn State wouldn'thave beaten Miami (possibly by a large margin) had it had the opportunity toplay the Hurricanes?

Let's get somekind of playoff system going.
MATT VANDE BUNTE, Hudsonville, Mich.

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Celebrants: Miami's Warren Sapp (76); Schlesinger (40) after a '94 TD.