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I think Gary Smith misses the point about the responsibility of sports when tragedy occurs. Although shootings or any act of violence should never be ignored, it's O.K. to close your eyes from the chaos, even if it's to watch a game, to take a breath when you have to. We often rely on sports and entertainment to shield our eyes from the turmoil. While players and coaches frequently bring us comfort during the toughest of times, it is unfair to expect them to take a public stance and speak out after every disaster, especially about something as divisive as gun control.

Jacob Cavazos, Houston

I thought Smith's essay (POINT AFTER) was not only courageous but also poignant. No matter how one interprets the Second Amendment, there is nothing in its wording that gives anyone the right to kill innocent civilians with an arsenal of guns. Those who have access to a public platform, whether they are athletes, coaches, Hollywood personalities or politicians, have an obligation to speak out against the gun culture that has enveloped this country.

James B. D. Mark Stanford, Calif.

Smith might be shocked to discover that not every coach and athlete would agree with his views. While they may have something to say on the matter, it could be quite the opposite of Smith's opinion. Furthermore, many fans like myself don't want athletes and coaches hijacking sports in order to make political statements.

Carl Keating, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

As a parent of five children in public school, including one in kindergarten and one who has Asperger's syndrome, the massacre in Newtown hit very close to home. Still, while gun control is easy to suggest, this issue demands a much larger, less facile discussion than the suggestions offered by Smith. There are more pervasive problems in our culture, such as mental illness and the dissolution of the family, that need to be added to the equation. The violence in Newtown cannot be blamed on any single factor but rather on a toxic stew of difficult cultural realities.

Nerina Bellinger, Victor, N.Y.

As an Englishman who now lives in the U.S., I admire how weekends here in America are focused on sports. I think Smith raises a compelling argument by suggesting that through sports, we could begin to address the social issues that surrounded the tragedy in Newtown. People pay attention to sports icons and this would be the perfect opportunity for those icons to speak out in honor of the children.

Paul Austin, Columbus, Ohio

I have been around guns my entire life, and never once has one of my guns gotten up, loaded itself and killed someone. It's not just the guns, it's the people behind the guns. Individuals who commit these types of crimes purposely look for places where they know they will encounter the least amount of resistance, which is why we need to strengthen our security measures.

Kathy Walker, Travelers Rest, S.C.




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The violence in Newtown cannot be blamed on any single factor but rather on a toxic stew of difficult cultural realities.

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Would you vote for a known steroids user to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame?

Mark Thompson: No, but I do feel a bit hypocritical because I think that a number of the players already in the Hall used performance enhancers. They just never got caught.

Dan Scheider: Yes. Regardless of whether anyone else agrees, the steroids era was the most exciting and fun time that the sport of baseball has ever seen.

Alex Theriault: The Hall of Fame is just a museum. Glossing over that period of baseball history just because some did steroids is the real joke. Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire were the best players of their era. It would be a travesty not to put their plaques in.

Moultrie D. Roberts: No! It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Infamy.

Jonathan R. Flowers: Only if they're in a noted section that includes an explanation of the steroids era.

Brian Belfeuil: I'd rather see Pete Rose in before any of these cheaters. At least what Rose did was all [from] natural ability.






FOR Dec. 31, 2012