As I flipped through the Spirit of '96 section, I came to the page with Ekaterina Gordeeva and tears filled my eyes.
KRISTEN SHUMAN, COATESVILLE, PA.
Among the 18 compelling events of 1996 chosen by your writers (Spirit of '96, Dec. 30-Jan. 6), one was devoted to a smirking, fur-bedecked celebrity who had been "caught—almost literally—with his pants down." Another described a snarling pit bull of a personality whose spirit for the year was encapsulated in telling your magazine what it can do. You could have run a piece about Pete Sampras's victory in his quarterfinal match against Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open. At 7-7 in the fifth-set tiebreaker Sampras overcame a sick stomach (he had vomited earlier) and delivered a second serve ace. Talk about intestinal fortitude.
DON DANIELS, Encinitas, Calif.
You devoted a page each to Albert Belle, Michael Irvin and Buster Douglas ( Buster Douglas?!), but you couldn't find space to mention Kirby Puckett? Puckett was perhaps the best player since Lou Gehrig to have his career ended by a freak disease. While thankfully his condition is not life-threatening, it shortened the career of one of the classiest and most talented athletes of this generation.
WESTON JOHNSON, Minneapolis
How disappointing that your writers' compelling people and events included Albert Belle and Michael Irvin, along with two moments from the gangster-infested sport of boxing, and omitted the wonderful final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was a stirring goaltending duel, with Uwe Krupp returning from a supposedly season-ending knee injury to score the Cup-winning goal in the third overtime.
GLENN LOCKE, Boulder, Colo.
Your writers made their choices for "the most compelling people and the most stirring moments of the year in sports." Not once in 25 pages was Tiger Woods mentioned. So how is he your Sportsman of the Year?
MIKE SCRUDATO, Boston
How could you overlook the tribute to Ozzie Smith at Busch Stadium in September, when his number was retired? My husband and I attended all three games and the pregame activities to honor Smith. It was one of the most moving weekends of our lives. The outpouring of love and admiration was overwhelming.
JEANNE M. BEAL, Belleville, Ill.
An obvious choice was Kerri Strug's final vault in the women's gymnastics team competition at the Olympics. Anyone who watched her land on one foot to ensure the gold medal for the U.S. team saw an exhilarating moment.
RICH HERSCH, East Norwalk, Conn.
How could you leave out LSU's Warren Morris? Morris, a walk-on, fourth-year junior at LSU on academic scholarship, missed most of the baseball season with a broken bone in his right hand. In games in which he was in the starting lineup, including the national championship game, the Tigers were 22-0. In that 22nd game Morris hit a two-run homer in LSU's last at bat to win what is considered by many to be the best College World Series final ever. Having coached against Morris for two years as an assistant at Mississippi, I know that it couldn't have happened to a classier young man.
TOM FLEENOR, Oxford, Miss.
Why is Donovan Bailey "whining" about Americans (SCORECARD, Jan. 13)? The U.S. media have always put the Olympic 100-meter champion on a pedestal, including dubbing him the world's fastest human. Along comes Bailey, who wins the Olympic 100, sets a world record in the process and is ignored by the American media. I think it safe to say that had Bailey been from the U.S., he would have garnered enough votes to rival Michael Johnson for the world athlete of the year.
MIKE LEGERE, Quesnel, B.C.