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Original Issue


All the attention paid to the shake-up in the Big 12 and LeBron's free agency will fade with time, but the fiasco that is the Gulf oil spill will no doubt continue to affect us for generations. Football and basketball are just games. What's going on in the waters so close to all of us is about life and death.

Benjamin David, Port Washington, N.Y.

Gary Smith has eloquently expressed our anger, heartache and hopelessness over the Gulf of Mexico horror (7 Days in the Life of a Catastrophe, July 5). He also illuminated the courage and faith of those who still have a spark of hope.

Charles Elliott Bernice, La.

Call to Arms

I loved Albert Chen's article (Year of the Pitcher, July 5). In a time when so much attention is devoted to offense, the pitching staff and defense don't get enough credit. As a Reds fan I was pleased to see righthander Mike Leake mentioned; however, setup man Arthur Rhodes's streak of 33 appearances without giving up a run tied a major league record. Not too shabby for a 40-year-old!

Nathan Bryant, Hope, Ind.

Fighting Words

I enjoyed your article about the Jack Johnson--Jim Jeffries fight of July 4, 1910 (SCORECARD, July 5). However, I think you might be assigning it too much importance as a defining point in our country's social development. The fight, rather than any indication of racial superiority, was generally recognized for what it was: a public relations sham, contrived by fight promoters who were eager to capitalize financially on the emotions evoked by Johnson's antics. Jeffries was widely considered to be overweight, out of shape and well beyond his best days. As your article noted, Johnson alternately taunted, then pummeled the unfortunate Jeffries. So let's recognize the fight for what it was—a colossal mismatch and a disgrace to the sport of boxing; but hardly a watershed moment in our country's race relations.

James Coleman, Easton, Md.

By criticizing this fight as a "lasting setback" on the path to better race relations, Richard Hoffer implies that progress comes without conflict. Hoffer also writes that "sport is best restricted to the service of entertainment, for uplift and excitement" and suggests that sport can be separated from the rest of society. Sport often has social significance, and Johnson's fight was a great example of this. He confronted racism and advanced the cause of equality. Even if Johnson was unsavory and his victory prompted a murderous white backlash, we should still recall his win as a milestone of progress.

Jim Strickler, Evanston, Ill.

Sports Lifeline

As the parent of an eight-year-old autistic boy trying to settle into his own rhythm, I was touched by Phil Taylor's article about 12-year-old golfer Charles St. Germain (POINT AFTER, July 5). It inspired a range of emotions, and I finished with a feeling of hope. Whether Charles wins a competitive match at any level doesn't matter. He and his father, Paul, have discovered a place where a unique boy with unique talent feels comfortable. It gives me and other parents of autistic children hope that we will find a niche for our kids.

Steve Lussier, Bedford, N.H.

Finding a connection with our sons is something fathers of children with autism always desire. Our kids struggle to fit in with their peers, and thus their participation in team sports is terrifying for the parents. Your story will be important to the many dads who have lost hope that they will ever make a connection with their child.

Steven Michelman

Las Vegas

Speed Bumps

I appreciated your discussion with today's stars of NASCAR (Motor Mouths, July 5). As an avid NASCAR fan I'd like to see the races become more competitive. I agree that the season needs to be shorter and racetracks (such as Iowa, Nashville, etc.) should be added. They also need to put the "stock" back in stock car racing. Recently the Nationwide series has gone this route, and the Cup series needs to follow suit. I don't believe, however, that races need to be shortened. There were 400- and 500-hundred-mile races back in racing's heyday, and they were a lot more fun to watch.

Kyle Pohlman, Brady, Neb.

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