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Though guilty of transgressions myself, I know it's hard for kids
to have fun if their parents are making the game life or death.
--Jack Dalton, Moline, Ill.

The Sins of the Parents

Thanks for your article about parents and youth sports (Out of
Control, July 24). My father is a high school and peewee football
referee and often comes home with stories of parents yelling at
or even threatening him. I play field hockey and basketball, and
if my parents started a fight with my coach or another parent, I
would be ashamed and embarrassed for them and for me.

As the father of two Little Leaguers, I've noticed that many
young umpires are unprepared for the task at hand. Rules are
enforced and interpreted inconsistently, and the younger umpires
are often intimidated by coaches who have strong personalities.
League supervisors must do a better job of preparing officials to
take firm charge of the games they are calling to prevent small
disagreements from escalating into ugly incidents.

The Loy brothers of Bridgeview, Ill., are sentenced to 40 hours
of community service for putting a man in intensive care--instead
of the 40 years of prison time they should have received--and you
wonder why youth sports are out of control? When the judicial
system starts taking these crimes seriously, the parents will
start taking these crimes seriously.
Long Beach, Calif.

In the championship game of this past Little League season, my
son Eric's team faced the team for which his friend Robby played.
After Eric's team won as the result of some questionable calls by
the umpire, I heard Robby's coach talking to his team. He
congratulated the boys on a fine season and told them to take
pride in how much they had improved. In the almost 10 years that
my sons have been involved in youth sports, for every abusive
manager, petulant player or belligerent parent, I have seen 10
coaches teaching the right lessons and 10 kids like Eric and
Robby learning them.

Provocative Pose

Leave the toplessness in your swimsuit issue where the bimbos
belong and put Jenny Thompson in the same place of respect that
you put other top athletes.
KIM BAER, Broken Arrow, Okla.

After seeing the pose of Thompson, I turned every page of your
magazine. Funny, the male athletes were fully clothed. Not one
had his pants off with his hands covering his anatomy.

With the suit Thompson is wearing, the U.S. team should sweep the
gold. However, those boots may cause some drag in the water.
NICK RAMOS, Longmont, Colo.

--For Rick Reilly's take on Thompson's pose, turn to page 112.

Wheels of Fortune

I don't watch bicycling. I don't like bicycling. After reading
about Lance Armstrong winning the Tour de France again (Heavenly
Ascent, July 24), I'm buying a bicycle.
MARK EDWARDS, Waterloo, Ont.

Ever since a helmetless 11-year-old patient of mine died from
head injuries suffered after falling from his bike, I've tried to
persuade children and parents to wear helmets while biking. It
saddened me to see Armstrong, a man who fought so hard to stay
alive, ignoring this simple, life-saving measure. My six-year-old
took a look at your cover and said, "Where's his helmet? You
know, that's bad."
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics
The Babies and Children's Hospital
New York City

Sweet Swinger

I want to applaud Jeff Pearlman on his story about Royals first
baseman Mike Sweeney (A Run of Luck, July 24). It's great to see
a piece about an athlete who cares about others.
JIM VALENTINE, Springfield, Ill.

Off Course

What knucklehead deemed it appropriate to use the headline
PEDAL-PHILIA in your LEADING OFF section (July 24)? The sexual
perversion pedophilia, which your wordplay evokes, is not a
subject to be made light of, especially in a magazine that a year
ago did an expose on youth sports coaches preying on children
(Every Parent's Nightmare, Sept. 13, 1999).


Old Glory

As a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, I have never before been so
moved by the sight of the Stars and Stripes (Unflagging, Aug.
14). Long may she wave.