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Original Issue


Grand Slams

Coaches anddiscerning fans know that it takes more skill to haul a man down in a messypileup than it does to blindside a player who isn't looking. Anyone can delivera "big hit," but it takes real football prowess to stay in your gap,ward off blockers and take on a ballcarrier who has all the momentum.
Allen Salter, Evanston, Ill.

The big hit is whatkeeps the fans coming back (Big Hits, July 30). If players are afraid of beinghit, they should trade in their shoulder pads and helmets for tennisrackets.
Brian Lattman, Scarsdale, N.Y.

Tim Layden writesthat "football without concussive hits is Ultimate Frisbee." That's whyI play Ultimate Frisbee.
Matt Weiss, Pittsburgh

The answer on howto play football more safely can be found in the old black-and-white NFL films.There you see no missilelike projectile hits. What has changed is the"protective" equipment. Today's hard plastic helmets and shoulder padsencourage blind dives and devastating collisions. Football players of old weremotivated by self-preservation to tackle with their shoulders and arms, keepingtheir head out of harm's way.
Mark Millar, Seal Beach, Calif.

As a former rugbyplayer and coach, I see a simple solution for the NFL: Adopt the rugby rulethat requires the tackler to wrap his arms around the tacklee. Not wrappingresults in a penalty. As a result of this rule, rugby has fewer injuries thanfootball, despite its players wearing less padding. Check out your coverphoto—Sheldon Brown does not appear to be attempting to use his arms at all.
Brock Ellwood, Grand Rapids

Your story showedhow pro players suffer the big hit on Sunday afternoons. But at least they canmoan all the way to the bank on Monday morning. What about the young men whotake hits on Saturday afternoons but never make it to the pros? Colleges thatsponsor scholarship sports should contribute to a national health insurancefund so that student-athletes who don't make a pro team can pay for medicalexpenses later in life.
Thomas A. Mauro, DeWitt, Mich.

Approximately208,000 people each year are treated in emergency rooms for traumatic braininjuries sustained during sports or recreational activities, and almost twothirds of those people are between ages five and 18. The Centers for DiseaseControl has developed tool kits to increase awareness of the problem andimprove prevention, recognition and management of these injuries. For moreinformation, go to
Ileana Arias
Director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, Atlanta

Stiff Upper Lip

Your caption"Quiet Suffering," above the picture of Sergio García (LEADING OFF,July 30) after he missed his British Open-winning putt on the 72nd hole, wascorrect in describing that moment. But afterward García engaged in immaturewhining. Instead of showing that he could be a gracious loser, he came off as acrybaby by blaming bad luck, slow play and a higher power. Jack Nicklaus won 18majors but was a runner-up in 19 others, and he was humble and gracious whetherhe won or lost. Sergio should take a page from Jack's book and learn how toaccept losing with dignity.
Sterling C. Proffitt, Keswick, Va.

Bad Boys ofSummer

My wife is aveterinarian, a Virginia Tech graduate and a former Michael Vick fan(Game-Fixing and Dogfighting Rock Pro Sports [And Barry Bonds Marches On], July30). I am just a former Michael Vick fan. Isn't it good for Vick that theAtlanta Falcons fans didn't electrocute, drown or throw him to the ground forhis subpar games, as he alledgedly did to some of his dogs.
Ken King, Pasadena, Md.

I'm sick and tiredof hearing people (sadly, including my own husband) try to defend or justifythe alleged actions of Vick and his associates by saying that dogfighting iscultural. No, dogfighting is cruelty, and it's illegal. I hope that Vick ispunished to the maximum extent of the law. And as for my husband, I hope heenjoys his stay on the couch. It's cultural.
Gladys Flores-Chernets, Hamilton, Ont.

After years ofseeing athletes being convicted of spousal abuse, the lopsided outrage overdogfighting shows the insanity of our society. Dogfighting is bad but nowherenear as horrible as a man beating his wife or girlfriend.
Jamey L. Persinger, Angola, N.Y.

Let me, with justfive words, caution everyone running in all directions because a sports starhas apparently done something that is revolting: Remember the Duke lacrosseteam.
Charlie Jones, La Jolla, Calif.

Where is a ParisHilton story when you need one?
Richard Browne, Perrysburg, Ohio

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