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Cover Madness

I love what you did with the cover of this year's March Madness
issue (March 22). You jinxed everyone!
Brian Long, Rochester, N.Y.

This has to be one of the greatest covers in SI history. It's the
Sgt. Pepper's album of March Madness coverage!
Paul C. Barba Middle Village, N.Y.

The cover got me excited about filling out my brackets and making
my picks for the men's tournament. I couldn't have been more
disappointed, however, when I later discovered a measly three
pages on the women's tournament. You failed to even mention Penn
State--one of the four No. 1 seeds. I applaud the wonderful men's
coverage, but let's not forget our female athletes.
Adam Zilcoski, Boston

Quality Check

Your Quality Shot Rating formula (March 22) reduces to simply
twice the percentage of field goal attempts that are
two-pointers. Everything else cancels out. It's a good example of
a statistic that is purported to measure more than it does.
Bob Petrella, Cambridge, Mass.

Who's Responsible?

Should readers feel sorry for a person who, at best, cheated on
his wife (Kobe's Two Worlds, March 22)? I am not sorry Kobe
Bryant has to endure the "hardship" of being shuttled back and
forth on a private jet to the court proceedings he caused. Bryant
has been treated so well by life, and now he has gotten himself
into a mess. Too bad. As a magna cum laude college graduate who
cannot find a job, I can think of much better examples of
hardship than Kobe's situation. Get some perspective.
Justin Cavanaugh, La Vista, Neb.

You failed to mention the most obvious victims of Bryant's
escapade--a wife and child who will live for decades haunted by
reminders of it. Perhaps he is innocent of rape, but his family's
trauma serves as a reminder that adultery is not victimless.
Steven Palmer, New Braunfels, Texas

Why would you even acknowledge the disgusting fans who shouted,
"She deserved it"? The entire article was offensive on so many
Erin Smith Montclair, N.J.

Kid Power

Deejay Scott Paulsen of Pittsburgh radio station WDVE used to ask
his then nine-year-old nephew, Grant Paulsen, to give his picks
for the weekend's football games (Air and Space, March 22). What
a snot-nosed brat, I thought to myself until I listened to what
the little whippersnapper had to say. This kid knows his sports
better than 99% of the so-called experts who bombard call-in
radio talk shows. Grant Paulsen has improved immensely during his
long (six-year) and distinguished career, and it's great to see
that he still keeps his schoolwork as his No. 1 priority.
Mark Caskey, Pittsburgh

Steve Rushin's column on Grant Paulsen proves something I've been
saying for a long time: It takes only a 12-year-old intellect to
announce sports. When Paulsen writes a Pulitzer Prize-winning
novel, I'll be impressed.
Tim Booth, Mahomet, Ill.

The Fight for Hockey

Despite the fact that I like to watch hockey fights, Code Red
(March 22) by Michael Farber was probably the best article I have
read about Todd Bertuzzi's attack on Steve Moore. The NHL has
backed itself into a corner and needs to find a way out.
Ross Alexander, Vancouver

The NHL's "acceptable violence" is a concept presented by fools.
Hockey has more fans who will come back when the violence is cut
off completely than it does losers who will go away when the
punches cease. Stop thinking the game isn't good enough to stand
on its own!
Bill Stolly, Lima, Ohio

Bertuzzi's attack on Moore was an isolated incident, not a
regular NHL occurrence. For hockey to remain an intense,
emotional game for both fans and players, fighting and hitting
must remain a part of it.
Chloe Puton, Toronto

Equating fighting in hockey and low television ratings is
disingenuous and misleading (No-See TV, March 22). In the photo
captioned "Is this a sport?" all of the fans in the background
are on their feet and seem excited. If the NHL bans fighting in
response to the misplaced pressure of negative media coverage,
the game will be diminished and hockey fans like those in your
photo will have less to cheer about.
Andrew Leung, Chicago

Farber's comparison of the NHL to a beloved "niche" sport like
NASCAR is unfounded. NASCAR is second in popularity only to the
NFL, and it considers the safety of its athletes to be paramount.
Granted, sometimes drivers have disagreements, but pugilism is a
rare occurrence. Until the NHL cleans up its game and eliminates
unnecessary violence, lower TV ratings and fewer corporate
sponsors will be the result.
Greg Zyla, Shamokin, Pa.

Unless hockey fans start walking away from violence on the ice
instead of cheering it, they should not expect that anything will
Robert Irion, Santa Cruz, Calif.

Not Just in Hockey

I agree completely with Michael Farber's Code Red. The Bertuzzi
incident was a ridiculous display of violence. Grown men acted
like barbarians to protect some unwritten code among players. The
problem is that the same article could have been written about
Game 3 of last year's American League Championship Series between
the Red Sox and the Yankees. Violence exists in many sports, even
America's beloved national pastime. I have been sickened by the
sound of a 100-mph high fastball crunching into someone's head, I
have been appalled by Roger Clemens's throwing a splintered bat
at Mike Piazza, and I have been horrified by watching an active
athlete (Pedro Martinez) throw an elderly lunatic (72-year-old
Don Zimmer) to the ground. Perhaps it's time for hockey to take a
page out of baseball's marketing book and make up cute little
catchphrases for violence, like "plunking" or "chin music." Then
hockey could have good, old-fashioned bench-clearing
brawls--which no longer occur in the NHL because of the automatic
10-game suspension given to anyone who leaves the bench to fight.
Dan Slater, Montreal

Respected Opponent

As an Englishman who subscribes to SI, I enjoyed your article on
Tim Howard (A Yank in Manchester, March 22). As a season-ticket
holder of league-leading and undefeated Arsenal, archrivals of
Howard's Manchester United, I just wanted to say that the only
good thing to come out of Old Trafford this season has been
Howard. His ability, attitude and approach to the game, on and
off the field, are a credit to him, his family and the U.S. If it
weren't for him, Man U wouldn't be 12 points behind Arsenal and
in third place in the Premier League, but much lower.
Steve Taylor, Orpington, Kent, England

Church and Sport

As a huge Red Sox fan, I often get caught up in the endless drama
between Boston and the Bronx while disregarding the rest of
baseball. Thanks for opening my eyes to the inspiring human being
that J.D. Drew is (The Passion of J.D. Drew, March 22). I'm
thrilled to see such a down-to-earth guy getting a fresh start in
an Atlanta Braves uniform, and I wish him the best of luck.
Kathleen Dillon Troy, N.Y.

Spare me the business about Drew being put upon because of his
religious beliefs. I've never read or heard of anyone blasting
his love of Jesus. I have, however, heard him criticized for
sitting out games for small or imagined ailments. I pay to watch
these overpaid crybabies play a game, I don't pay to hear them
tell me how much they love Jesus. Save it for the pews.
Keith Hull, Boise, Idaho

Minnesota's Favorite?

I read Steve Rushin's account of the popularity of hockey in
Minnesota (Goal Driven, March 22), only to turn the page and
discover that Minnesota poll respondents didn't consider hockey
among the top four sports to play or top three to watch on TV.
Apparently, he should've written about the Vik-queens, Twinkies
or golf. On Wisconsin!
Eric J. Morrow, Houston

How can you possibly profile sports in Minnesota without
mentioning the contributions of Duluth? The NFL practically began
here with the Duluth Eskimos of the 1920s. Minnesota-Duluth
football launched coach Dan Devine on his way to Notre Dame and
Green Bay. UMD hockey has produced three Hobey Baker Memorial
Award winners: Tom Kurvers in '84, Bill Watson in '85 and Chris
Marinucci in '94. Duluth Denfeld High's Robb Stauber won the same
award in '88 while at Minnesota. Brett Hull and three members of
the 1980 Olympic gold medal team--Phil Verchota, Mark Pavelich
and John Harrington--at one time called Duluth home. And all the
UMD women's hockey team has done lately is win the first three
NCAA championships. Not bad for a town that didn't even show up
on your map.
Timothy R. LeGarde, Duluth

Japan Bashing

Lost in Translation (March 22) was nothing more than a listless
patchwork of worn-out stereotypes that have been used against the
Japanese ever since Shogun aired more than two decades ago.
Robert Whiting has failed to prove how any of the alleged
tribulations of Japanese ballplayers in the majors--overcoming
isolation and a language barrier--are different from those faced
by Latino players, or for that matter, by any immigrant
attempting to succeed in a new country.
Korta Yuasa, New York City

Bad Guy Loses

I can't tell you how good it made me feel to read Rick Reilly's
March 22 column (The Life of Reilly). Just when you're ready to
give up on humans for being selfish and greedy, people step up to
help a stranger. I hope Shawn Stevens, if he is guilty, goes away
for a good long time. People who prey on the vulnerable and the
weak are the lowest of the low. Three cheers to Reilly and to
everyone who helped raise Pete Pihos up.
Julianne Ture, Malden, Mass.

"Now don't you feel better?" Almost, Rick. Yet I can't help
feeling badly for those twin daughters whose birth announcement
helped authorities track down Stevens. Those poor kids didn't
choose to have a jerk for a father.
Paul S. Brittain, Mount Pleasant, Pa.

Venus and Serena

The Williams sisters can, if they wish, leave professional tennis
and go on to other things with heads held high (Inside Tennis,
March 22). Last year these ladies experienced the death of their
sister. Most of us know that family and faith and friends eclipse
fame and fortune, but how many of us act according to those
priorities? Whatever you choose for the future, Venus and Serena,
you've given us a great ride!
William Milliken, Nanaimo, B.C.


COLOR PHOTO: PAUL J. BERESWILL/NEWSDAY/AP BASEBRAWL Zim and Pedro showed that fighting can mar their sport, too.

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