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Original Issue


Pro sports need Michael Jordan. He represents one thing that our
society seems to be lacking: a genuine class act.
Chico, Calif.


Phil Taylor wrote what die-hard fans have been saying: Michael
Jordan has too much talent to retire (Hang in There, Feb. 16).
At 35, he is still averaging nearly 30 points a game and is a
constant force on defense. No other sport has a figure as
central as Jordan. He is the NBA right now, and it will be years
until the Kobe Bryants and Allen Iversons are ready to wear that

When we see Jordan's skills start to fade or his competitive
spirit start to burn out, we will concede. For now, Michael,
please don't go! You can play golf the rest of your life. Retire
when you know it is time, not because of Jerry Reinsdorf, Jerry
Krause or Phil Jackson.

I found it agonizing to watch the careers of Larry Bird and
Magic Johnson come to abrupt endings because of injury and
illness. We should respect Jordan and let him go, let him walk
away from the game he made so great on his own terms.


Your article on the Olympic figure skating judges caught my eye
(Blind Justice, Feb. 16). I am involved with dressage, an
equestrian sport that is sometimes likened to figure skating
competitions when one is describing to the uninitiated what the
horses do. Each dressage judge has a scribe, who writes down the
judge's score and comments on each movement of the horse as it
performs. The judge then makes the final comments about his
overall impression of the horse and its rider and signs each
test. A judge cannot watch the competitor and write at the same
time. At the higher levels, there are five judges, who are
positioned on three different sides around the arena. Do you
think figure skating would benefit from a similar system?
SUZANNE M. LEWIS, Brighton, Mich.

As judges' chair for the U.S. Figure Skating Association, I feel
I must let you know that all our judges are well trained. They
must pass an annual exam, attend judges' school every four years
and undergo evaluation every year. As for your assertion that
our judges are too old, this year at the nationals we had many
young judges, and I am promoting as many of them as possible. We
have an accelerated group and a select group of judges who are
former skaters.

The scoring system, not bias or incompetence, is the greatest
obstacle to fair judging. Knowing the ordinal rank to be
all-important, judges must manipulate scores by assessing each
program against their future expectations. This magnifies the
effect of program order and reputation.

A closed judging system would be fairer. This method, which
ranks competitors after an entire group has finished, would
allow a brief video review of the performances. The usual
objection to closed judging is that it would open the door to
direct favoritism. The hidden obstacle, I suspect, is that its
adoption would eliminate the kiss-and-cry sessions that attend
the announcement of a skater's scores. These sessions affront
the dignity of athletes but generate boffo TV ratings.


As a former Odessa Jackalope, I know firsthand the players, the
bus and the lifestyle of the team (Lone Star Skate, Feb. 16).
But this organization is far from being the bust you describe.
Attendance averages about 4,000 per game, not bad for a
last-place minor league hockey team in Texas. Also, the
Jackalopes give Odessa-Midland something to be proud of,
something to cheer for--and most important, they provide a place
for players like me to chase dreams.

We love our $13 seats on the 50-yard line.
WALLY W. WELD, Amarillo, Texas

COLOR PHOTO: PETER READ MILLER [Scott Frost and opposing player in game]


Once again in anointing the favorites for the NFL draft, the
pundits have looked no further than the most-hyped players
during the season (Inside the NFL, Feb. 16). Thus, there is
little doubt that Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf will top the list
of quarterbacks when the draft is discussed, and it seems that
Scott Frost (above) will remain underrated, like his predecessor
quarterbacks at Nebraska, despite his achievements. Frost
appears to have the John Elway qualities. Wouldn't it be ironic
if Denver, picking low in the draft, selected Frost and started
to groom the next Elway?
DION MAKRIS, Bellbrook, Ohio