Football is the roughest pro sport in America, which may explain why it is arguably the most popular.
MICHAEL EDWARDS, LANSDOWNE, PA.
In Harm's Way
Defenders like Chicago Bear linebacker Vinson Smith don't agree with the rules that protect the quarterback (Knock It Off! Oct. 16)? They feel these rules are taking something away from the game? Then how about removing the rules that protect the defenders' knees from chop blocks and clips? The NFL's director of development, Gene Washington, was right on the money when he said, "Players should want to win because they're better, not because they've knocked somebody out of the game so they could face an inferior player."
JOHN MILLER, West Caldwell, N.J.
The attitude of the NFL defensive players has to change. The word tackle has been replaced by hit and get, as in get the quarterback or receiver. The head-to-head hit and the elbow to the face have to stop before another player becomes a paraplegic or dies from one of those purposeful blows. My solution is to eject the player as well as fining him. That will slop this violence.
RICHARD C. OSTER, Lady Lake, Fla.
We watch the game to see Jerry Rice catch a bomb from Steve Young, not to see Elvis Grbac get pummeled on each play by a headhunting defensive player.
MICHAEL ROESSNER, Upper Montclair, N.J.
Why not a 12th man on offense, a designated blocker, whose sole job would be to defend the quarterback?
ERIC STEVENS, Virginia Beach, Va.
Today's NFL rules are so screwed up, I don't blame the defensive players for being confused. But if the quarterbacks don't want to get hit, they should get down, slide, throw the ball away or stop standing in the pocket so long. I want to see quality football, and that includes tough defense.
STEVE EDWARDS, Washington, D.C.
Because of decision-makers like Gene Washington, I would rather mow the lawn on Sunday afternoons than watch the NFL. I'll get my football entertainment from college games, in which hitting is still legal.
BARRY BROWN, Southampton, N.Y.
Even if the Chinese are attempting to clean up their athletic program (The China Syndrome, Oct. 16), the women's times in their national swimming championship in September are too slow to be believed. The results lend credence to the theory that the Chinese are letting only their second-string swimmers compete in public while they secretly groom a new team of wonder women for the 1996 Olympics, a team that will be unknown, unranked and therefore untested for steroids before competition.
The current standard in world sport is to expose athletes to early and consistent drug testing. But we are less than a year from the Atlanta Games, and we have seen, over the summer, no success by the Chinese women in the world track and field championships, no performances of note in women's world swimming and a low level of improvement in men's swimming.
We are faced with the possibility of an embarrassing scene in Atlanta if the world's swimmers protest performances by Chinese female athletes who are steroid-free at the time of the games. If they are not tested before the Olympics, it would be impossible to determine if they had bulked up on steroids beforehand then stopped taking the drugs in order to avoid detection.
RAY B. ESSICK, Executive Director
United States Swimming