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Gold Standard

Your selection of Michael Phelps as Sportsman of the Year is an excellent one. He is inspiring not only to billions worldwide but also to all of us on the Olympic team. That he is the greatest Olympian ever is indisputable. Phelps has immortalized the Olympic odyssey for our lifetime.
Jason Read, Ringoes, N.J.
2004 and '08 Olympian, rowing

My 12-year-old son and I were on the sideline for the Arkansas--South Carolina football game in Columbia, and we realized that the unassuming man we were standing near was Michael Phelps (Sportsman of the Year, Dec. 8). He noticed my son and practically insisted that I take his picture with him. Later Phelps was introduced to the fans, who abandoned their "Gamecock" and "Razorback" cheers to chant "U-S-A ... U-S-A" so enthusiastically, the stadium swayed. This is what his achievements represent and why the manner in which he carries himself is so impressive.
William R. Poplin, Atlanta

Special Olympics

Thank you for giving your first Legacy Award to Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver (Small Steps, Great Strides, Dec. 8). When you await the birth of a child, you have dreams—a quarterback, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher. Then you get the diagnosis, and you lose those dreams. Shriver helped us realize that we could still have dreams.
Marjorie Bennett, San Jose

After a fight with a dormmate in college in 1982, I asked how I could make it up to him. He asked me to help at a Special Olympics track meet on campus. I spent the day in awe of the men and women who competed. One man ran the 100-yard dash with his crutches attached to his arms and fell hard several times. He always picked himself up and ran harder to try to make up time. He finished last, but when he crossed the finish line he had a smile and sense of accomplishment on his face that has stayed with me to this day.
Tom Donovan, Toms River, N.J.

The pictures of Special Olympics athletes holding up their medals brought tears to my eyes. No one can look at those faces and doubt that Special Olympics is one of the most important organizations in sports.
Jim Briggs, North Bergen, N.J.

The confidence boost and love that my brother Chris experienced in Special Olympics was a significant factor in his fulfilling his dreams. He went on to star for four years as Corky in ABC's Life Goes On and today is the goodwill ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society.
J.R. Burke, Berwyn, Pa.

A Star's Trek

As a sci-fi fanatic I can barely contain my excitement now that Mark Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras (Tex, Inc., Dec. 8), has proved there is an alternate universe—one where the economics of baseball are even better than when A-Rod signed his megadeal. In my universe, my 401(k) is down 40% and the economy is in free fall. Beam me up, Scotty.
Steve Lindstrom, Belvidere, Ill.

Another Side of the Truth

Every Lakers fan hated Paul Pierce for what we thought was a fake knee injury in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals. After reading S.L. Price's story (The Truth Revealed, Dec. 8), I have come to terms with two things: He was not faking the injury, and he deserved this championship.
Evan Zemlin-Kisor, Los Angeles

2 on 5

You had a nice run, Hoosiers. But after reading about North Jackson's winning a game against Fort Payne with only two men left on the floor (2 on 5, Dec. 8), I have found a new underdog story for the ages.
Matt Ciciarelli, Willow Grove, Pa.

I am the freshman boys' basketball coach at Fort Payne. I have lived here for three years but had heard nothing of this 1992 game until reading your article. It was sad to hear of the hardships of some of those involved in this game; however, we must keep telling this story so the next generation may learn from it.
Adam Comeens, Fort Payne, Ala.

Enjoy the Ride

Before I read your story on Stanton Barrett (Stanton Barrett Risks His Life So He Can Risk His Life, Dec 8), my brothers and I would joke about him whenever he made it into a NASCAR race. I am now officially on the bandwagon. I would love to see what he could do with good equipment.
Chad Rhodes, Salem, Ohio

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