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Original Issue



Mike Ditka reinvents himself more often than Madonna.
--MICHAEL RANOS, Annawan, Ill.


It was quite a feat for Grant Wahl to correctly predict 13 of
the 16 teams to qualify for the second round of the World Cup
and then identify the eventual winner (Vive la France! June 15).
Grant, if you E-mail me your six numbers for the next Colorado
lottery, we'll split the winnings.
ROCCO MECONI, Canon City, Colo.

Ian Thomsen scored with his excellent article on the U.S.
national soccer team's debacle in France (Go-o-o Home, June 29).
It saddens me that, even at the highest level, a coach like
Steve Sampson can destroy a cohesive unit.
MARC SIMON, New York City

Rick Reilly is right (THE LIFE OF REILLY, July 13). My friends
argue that when a soccer player gets fouled and simulates an
epileptic seizure, it's somehow part of the game. I think it's
an embarrassment to sports.
B.J. SPERANZA, Riverside, R.I.

Reilly was wrong when he wrote that Americans suck at soccer. He
must never have seen the U.S. women play. No rioting, no
smoking, no one getting killed for an own-goal, and the players
are all better looking than Alexi Lalas.
CHRIS BUSSE, Ashford, Conn.

The cover of Saints coach Mike Ditka was not only a slap in the
face to those who love the world's most popular sport, but it
also demonstrated the lack of support that soccer receives in
the U.S. Perhaps this is part of the reason that the U.S. had
such a poor showing in France.

As a French and U.S. citizen I congratulate Grant Wahl for his
fine piece on the World Cup final (Coup de Grace, July 20). It
was by far the best I have seen. I do have one complaint,
however: Ditka on the cover instead of the victors in a true
world championship that occurs only once every four years?
PIERRE A. ROVANI, Washington, D.C.


My three children are crazy about Mike Ditka (Da Saint, July
20). He represents much of what my boys love about football.
However, their only uncle has lung cancer and a heart condition,
and three of their four grandparents died of cancer or heart
ailments directly related to smoking. Shame on you for the cover
photo of Mike Ditka with a cigar! Give my kids an image of a
role model that is healthy and shows respect for life.

Kudos to Iron Mike for kicking his f-word habit. Ditka put it
best by saying, "You don't have to talk like that to be a
leader. And you don't have to talk like that to win."
DENNIS G. DUBE, Auburn, Ala.

If Mike Ditka understood New Orleans, he would know that New
Orleanians rarely visit Bourbon Street. It's for tourists--you
know, like people from Chicago.
LARRY JOHNSON, Moselle, Miss.


It's about time someone made fun of Beanie Babies (THE LIFE OF
REILLY, July 20), the dumbest fad since the Power Rangers.
Anyone who fights over those things should be forced to read
Rick Reilly's column, then watch him burn all the Beanie Babies
people are sending him. Uh, you are burning them, right, Rick?
JASON WALDMAN, Cranberry Township, Pa.

With all that is wrong in sports, players and owners should be
grateful for anything that brings fans to the game, even a
Beanie Baby.
LAURA MUNKS, Crystal Lake, Ill.


It is hypocritical of baseball phenom J.D. Drew to speak of his
"passion" for the game when he willingly subjugates that passion
for the sake of a contract he has yet to earn (INSIDE BASEBALL,
July 20). Scott Boras, you and your client have shown the
ability to make even greedy owners look sympathetic.
WAYNE HADDY, Marion, Iowa

Drew could have been a hero for tomorrow's Little Leaguers.
Instead, the world sees him for what he truly is--a selfish brat.
JIM ZAWROTNY, Corpus Christi, Texas

COLOR PHOTO: STEVE POWELL/ALLSPORT [Said Aouita in race with others]


Tim Layden wrote that Daniel Komen has the potential "to someday
hold records at distances from 1,500 to 10,000 meters, a range
of domination that has never been approached" (Distance Thunder,
July 20). Said Aouita (55) won the Olympic gold medal at 5,000
meters in 1984 and came back four years later to take the bronze
medal in the 800. He also held world records at 1,500, 2,000,
3,000 and 5,000 meters, as well as two miles. To me, these
accomplishments seem at least comparable to whatever Komen may do.
ALAN REIFMAN, Lubbock, Texas

--Also, Paavo Nurmi set 22 world records at distances ranging
from 1,500 to 20,000 meters between 1921 and '31. --ED.