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Original Issue


Thank you for the series of articles regarding soccer. They showed the global nature of the sport, which is played by people from all walks of life in all different environments and has a way of uniting populations. My one regret is that the majority of people in the U.S. only pay attention to the beautiful game every four years.

Bradley Morris, Jupiter, Fla.

The headline for your World Cup section (The Beautiful Game, May 24) couldn't be more inappropriate—the photo on page 50 of the three youngsters in Nairobi with a ball made of plastic bags and twine says it all. It's appalling that millions of dollars have been spent on new soccer stadiums in Africa when the children living in the shadows of these fancy structures are largely ignored. There's nothing beautiful about that.

Fred Engh

West Palm Beach, Fla.

I received this edition the day after my Wednesday-night pickup game, during which Africans, South Americans, Europeans, Mexicans and Americans all gave praise, spewed anger, criticized decisions and talked trash about the upcoming World Cup in their respective languages. Beautiful game. Beautiful world. I'm so happy to still be a part of it.

John D. Reisman

West Lafayette, Ind.

Power Player

I was moved by Grant Wahl's article on Didier Drogba and the impact that he has had on his country (Soccer Savior, May 24). The courage Drogba displayed in working with the Ivory Coast's government to help unite a nation torn by violence is truly beyond comprehension.

Chuck Chubbuck, Stow, Ohio

There are two ways an athlete can respond to a rise in fame and fortune. The first is the Roethlisberger Response, whereby he uses his wealth and status for selfish purposes. While reading this issue, I learned about the rare Drogba Response, whereby an athlete uses his wealth and status to help end a civil war and build a hospital. Which one would you rather have on your team?

Paul Prior, Whitby, Ont.

Another Tour of Duty

Although the WTA has become a popularity contest, everyone should admire the comeback of Justine Henin (The New Adventures of Old Justine, May 24). She wins with mental toughness and class rather than ear-deafening grunts, and I wish her future success both on and off the court.

Sam Bachelder

Wenham, Mass.

Still Going Strong

It was refreshing to read Lee Jenkins's article about Grant Hill of the Suns, a true gentleman and an inspiration to anyone who has worked his way back from an injury (His Time Is Now, May 24). Hill has no regrets, even though injuries have likely wiped out his Hall of Fame chances. Here's hoping he has a few more years in the tank before entering a wholly different arena: politics.

Luis Vega, Brooklyn

Hill says he has "dark memories" of his time in Orlando. He was paid $93 million and averaged only 33 games during his seven-year contract with the Magic—an average of $465,000 per game. The first three years he played a total of 47 games. Then he got healthy and left town. If a team gave me $93 million to sit around, I wouldn't consider it a "dark memory."

Glenn Brancart

Winter Park, Fla.

Old School Approach

Rangers team president Nolan Ryan's comments on starting pitching were a breath of fresh air for baseball lovers (Nolan Ryan's Crusade, May 24). Coaches who advocate pitch counts need to take a look at the careers of pitchers such as Juan Marichal, Don Drysdale and Warren Spahn to see the effects of allowing a pitcher's competitive spirit to dictate how long he stays in. Let's hope Ryan's thinking spreads fast across the league.

Jay Fike, Southlake, Texas

Ryan's new program is probably having some impact, but it's not the biggest reason for the Rangers' improvement. In 2008 they were among the worst defensive teams in baseball, according to every advanced defensive metric. Before the next season began, Texas moved Michael Young to third, put Elvis Andrus at shortstop, and added defensive legends Andruw Jones and Omar Vizquel, and the team's defense moved into the MLB's top 10. It is similarly ranked this season. On the other hand the metrics that remove defense from pitching show that Texas ranked 28th in pitching in 2008, 23rd in 2009 and 24th this season after 54 games.

Joe Halverson, Jacksonville

I hope SI's readers don't extrapolate that Ryan's ideas apply to pitchers of any age. As a physical therapist, I see the number of arm injuries in young pitchers reaching epidemic proportions. Pitch counts by age group are only part of the solution, but they are a valuable tool to remind players, coaches and parents that arms are not inexhaustible.

Josh Billings, Catonsville, Md.

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