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Sticker Shock

Your article on the high cost of attending sporting events was
filled with eye-opening facts about the price a family has to pay
to see its favorite team perform (Hey Fans: Sit on It! May 15).
However, there was one omission: About 99% of regular-season
games don't mean anything.
MIKE D'ANNIBALLE, Columbus, Ohio

The majority of pro athletes are the children of blue-collar,
working-class drones, the people who can no longer afford to
attend a game. Hasn't this irony struck the overpaid players?

Tom Cruise makes $20 million per movie, and a front row seat at a
theater is $8. Mike Modano makes $6 million a year, and a front
row seat at an arena is $250. Either Cruise is underpaid, or my
Dallas Stars tickets are way overpriced.

By making it prohibitively expensive for families to go to
games, big league franchises are ignoring their future fan base.
Children today aren't interested in home teams. Most probably
can't name 10% of the players on the roster.
DAN FERREIRA, Hayward, Calif.

It's true that corporate purchasing has been a major factor in
driving up ticket prices. However, there's one element that E.M.
Swift missed: The cost of sports tickets is tax deductible as a
business entertainment expense. Thus the individual fan not only
gets relegated to the nosebleed seats, but the cost of the
expensive seats is federally subsidized. Talk about corporate

NBA owners, puzzled why more fans don't attend the games, should
look at Scottie Pippen's comment in your May 8 issue (page 42):
"I pretty much coasted for part of the regular season." As a
former pro basketball fan, I have no intention of paying to watch
a coddled multimillionaire like Pippen go through the motions.
WAYNE MUTCHLER, Peterborough, N.H.

The significant decline in the quality of play in most major pro
sports must be taken into consideration. Baseball and hockey, in
particular, have been diluted by overzealous expansion. Why are
offensive statistics soaring in baseball? Shorter fences,
evaporating strike zones and lower mounds have helped, but
virtually every pitching staff has at least one, if not several,
pitchers who should not be in the majors.
JIM WILSON, Villanova, Pa.

Lightning Rod

It was refreshing to read an article on Latrell Sprewell that
described who he is and not who he was (Spree for All, May 15).
Sprewell is a talented athlete who has had problems, like many
players in the NBA. New York took a chance on him two seasons ago
when few teams wanted him. Now I bet there's no team that would
deny having him near the top of its wish list.

Your article about Sprewell described him as being "intelligent."
Yet there was not one thing in the article that made me think
this guy has a brain. Let's see, he Jet Skis for fun, likes to
play computer games, drives fast, doesn't read many books except
those about hot rods and luxury cars, and has five kids out of
wedlock. Now there's a guy I admire for his intellect!
KATHY CONNORS, Medina, Wash.

Sprewell isn't the ultimate team player as portrayed in your
article. He epitomizes everything that's wrong with sports today.
It's ironic that you have an article on Sprewell preceding one
about ticket prices. If Swift needs an explanation as to why
attendance at sporting events is down, he need not look further
than Sprewell.
DAVID GOLDBERG, Hollywood, Fla.

Tragedy Revisited

Rick Reilly's piece on Columbine student Greg Barnes moved me to
tears (THE LIFE OF REILLY, May 15). It reminds us that the
healing process is long and difficult. It also reminds us that
some wounds run deeper than others.
ROB FINDTNER, Monmouth, Ore.

The labeling of Barnes as "One More Victim" of the Columbine
tragedy is presumptuous. Barnes left no suicide note, yet Reilly
assumed that the young man killed himself because of residual
trauma from the shootings. Sadly, there are many reasons a young
person might take his life, and the pressure of being labeled
"hands-down the best schoolboy player coming back next year in
Colorado" may be one of them.
JIM BEGGS, Modesto, Calif.


Worth Every Dollar

A few months ago I attended a Heat game in Miami. The ticket
cost $37. Recently, I attended a Bruce Springsteen concert in
Hartford. That ticket cost me $37.50. Who performed for 180
minutes without so much as a 30-second timeout? (Answer: the
Boss.) Who drank at least three gallons of Gatorade and sponged
himself off eight times while giving his fans their money's
worth? (The Boss.) Who has the best "big man" who plays a mean
sax and probably could dunk a basketball? (The Boss.) I only
have one question: Mr. Springsteen, how can I purchase season
tickets to you?
MONICA HAMILTON, East Syracuse, N.Y.

I spent $100 to watch a NASCAR race, spent another $100 on food
and merchandise and felt I got a good deal! It's value that's
important, not price.
--BRUCE KENT, San Diego