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Car Talk

Thank you for your article on the booming interest in NASCAR
(NASCAR Nation, July 1). After I started following NASCAR in
1996, I found I did not miss talk of collective bargaining
agreements, lockouts and strikes, inflated egos, trade demands,
salary caps, athlete arrests and drug use. NASCAR is about real
people. The drivers are great role models, and their
accessibility to the fans is unmatched in any sport. Can you
imagine being able to listen to Shaq's thoughts during a game
the way fans can tune into their favorite drivers, via radio
scanners, during a race?
Las Vegas

I must congratulate Jeff MacGregor for achieving an absolute
pinnacle of literary expression: "NASCAR is at once death-defying
and prosaic."
Mililani, Hawaii

NASCAR may yet replace baseball as America's national pastime,
but I wonder if this is necessarily a good thing. In your picture
of two bikini-topped fans, I can make out at least five
Confederate flags in the background. Somehow I doubt that those
flags are being flown only to commemorate the tradition of
gentility and charm that the South is known for. How many drivers
in NASCAR are nonwhite? NASCAR races are fun to watch, and the
drivers are certainly very skilled, but until the sport
acknowledges its lack of diversity, I don't think NASCAR deserves
all the fawning adulation that it gets.

Reading your article about NASCAR's popularity I am reminded of
something my grandfather said to me: "NASCAR is for people who
aren't sophisticated enough to appreciate the WWF."

Has Jeff MacGregor been watching the same races I have? "Dale
Earnhardt Jr. Leads NASCAR Nation." Yeah, leading all the way
from 14th place in the Winston Cup standings and finishing 26th
or worse in seven out of the first 13 races. Thanks for the

Presidential Privilege

As I read through Steve Rushin's AIR AND SPACE (July 1), I was
brought into the world and personal life of President Bush as
never before. This is what writing is all about. Thank you Mr.
Rushin for giving me the opportunity to relate to and connect
with the leader of our country, even if only for a brief moment.
TERRY JUDE, Louisa, Ky.

Please spare us the puff pieces on Mr. Bush. He has an entire
staff--financed with taxpayer dollars--dedicated to keeping us
informed about what a sensitive American he is. What good is
being physically fit when Bush is so intent on trashing the Clean
Air and Clean Water acts? Maybe I'll just take my snowmobile to
the ANWR and watch the oil rigs in action. Leave the pandering to
the professionals, Mr. Rushin, and stick to sports.
GUSTAV P. RECH, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

George W. Bush was born into every imaginable privilege,
including the presidency. Does Rushin expect me to pity Bush
because his job has temporarily interrupted his life of leisure?
Sorry, Steve, all Americans should have such problems.
JEFFREY H. KAPLAN, St. Charles, Ill.

Bird Watchers

You old guys can ogle Anna Kournikova all you want. This
21-year-old male will take a real athlete like Sue Bird (The
Sky's the Limit, July 1). Kournikova has decent legs, but to me,
all the athletic moves, last-second shots, leadership ability and
championships make Sue Bird way sexier.
TY DILTS, Council Bluffs, Iowa

I've been a fan of Bird since she stepped onto the court at UConn
four years ago, and I've been amazed at how her personality has
never changed and her incredible smile has never left her face.
She truly is the face of women's team sports, and I can think of
many male athletes who could learn something from her about
acting like a role model.
AMANDA BOWES, Waterford, Conn.

Another Wish List

Hey Rick, I've had a few hopeful daydreams myself (THE LIFE OF
REILLY, July 1). Wouldn't you love to hear sportscasters on
baseball highlight shows not use the word "jack" or the term
"went yard" to describe home runs?...wouldn't you love to see
an umpire ejected from a ball game for arguing with or showing up
a player, coach or manager?

Still Kicking

While SI does offer Grant Wahl's contemplating MLS and the future
of U.S. soccer (Now the Hard Part, July 1), that issue contains
no coverage of the actual World Cup tournament. The key to soccer
success is the quality of the product on the pitch. MLS is an
inferior product, and spending money on new stadiums won't change
that fact. Think globally. Pay the best talent to come to the
U.S., and real soccer fans will respond. Until that happens, I'll
continue to ignore MLS while I eagerly await the return of the
European and South American leagues on Fox Sports World.
JAMES P. NOON, Burbank, Calif.

It's hard to get excited about soccer when each time two players
collide, they both feign agony. If a stretcher is called onto the
field, they should be taking the player to the hospital, not the
sideline. Give me hockey any day!