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Soft Focus

It was great to see the U.S. women's softball team on your cover (Aug. 30). With three consecutive Olympic gold medals, they have perched themselves at the top of their sport and show no signs of falling.

Meredith Wolfe
San Diego

Your cover captures what will surely be two enduring memories of the Athens Olympics: 1) the most dominating team performance of the Games and 2) a stadium full of empty seats.

Greg Cosgrove, Palm Desert, Calif.

When softball becomes as popular around the world as basketball, then you can call them the Dream Team.

Brian Peers, Lancaster, Pa.

Sweet Talk

Too bad that E.M. Swift's article on the feisty and talented Olympic champion Carly Patterson was ruined by his inane comparison of Carly's figure to a Snickers bar (The Pepper Pot, Aug. 30). Shame on you for adding a little sting to her well-deserved glory.

Margie Dines, Wayzata, Minn.

"Cookie"? "Cupcake"? "Snickers bar"? Does Swift always equate food with gymnasts, or was he hungry when he wrote this article?

Jason Beatty, Carmel, Ind.

Hamm's Gold

I was impressed by E.M. Swift's article about Olympic gymnast Paul Hamm (Fall and Rise, Aug. 30). Not only did Swift emphasize that Paul's victory was one of the most amazing comebacks in sports history, but he also chose not to dwell on the controversy surrounding the win. Swift did a wonderful job reminding us that no matter which way you slice it, Hamm is a champion through and through.

Ami Pysh, Hebron, Ind.

The error was administrative, not a biased judgment of performance. Hamm had the chance to be a true sportsman and exchange the gold for silver. I hope that he will realize how hollow the medal really is and do the right thing.

Michael Craig, Winnipeg

Your sidebar (The Official Mistake, Aug. 30) was the best explanation I have read of why the gold belongs to Hamm. If a video review had been used to correct the start value, it would have been fair if that the same method had been used to correct the .20 deduction overlooked by the judges. The gymnastics federation is trying to use Paul to clean up its own house. When the gold medal was placed around Paul's neck, the issue was settled.

Jack O'Connor, Bethany, Okla.

Jim Dandy

It was nice to catch up on the life of Jimmy Connors (Jimbo, Aug. 30). It seems like only yesterday that SI wrote him off: "Borg had everybody raving by slugging fast flat serves past the late, great Jimmy Connors" (Another Big Mac Attack, Sept. 21, 1981). Connors, of course, won another Wimbledon and a couple more U.S. Opens and competed at a high level for 10 more years, while Borg gave up soon after McEnroe knocked him from his lofty perch. Thanks, Jimmy, for 20 years of great tennis--and entertainment.

Kurt Rutherford, Bel Air, Md.

In Alexander Wolff's otherwise excellent story on Connors, you have allowed a myth to be perpetuated. Referring to Connors's challenge matches in Las Vegas, Wolff wrote that "in 1977 The New York Times revealed that those 'heavyweight' matches, billed as 'winner take all,' had in fact been 'winner take most.'" The Times was not the first to reveal this. I had written in the Feb. 10, 1975, issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, "Laver did not do so badly for a loser in a 'winner-take-all' match; insiders said he went home with about $60,000" (A Two-Armed Bandit Hits the Jackpot). Later, in the May 5, 1975, issue of SI, I wrote, "Despite the fact that CBS advertised the match was 'winner take all,' Newcombe's losing take was in the neighborhood of $300,000" (Jackpot for Jimbo). The Times revelation two years later was not much of a scoop.

Joe Jares, Los Angeles

•SI regrets the error. --Ed.

Two-Timin' Woman

Your Aug. 30 cover marked the second appearance for softball pitcher Cat Osterman. She was also on the Stanford- versus-Texas college sports cover (Oct. 7, 2002). Excluding swimsuit models, are there any women who have had more SI cover appearances than Osterman?

Luke Coley, Mobile

•Mary Decker Slaney, with four appearances on the cover, and Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Florence Griffith Joyner, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Monica Seles, all with three, have more covers than Osterman. --ED.

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