How can you call Jake Plummer "one of the NFL's most efficient signal-callers" after only four games (Snake Eyes, Oct. 6)? In Arizona he was always trying to get out of holes he created for himself, and after six weeks of play this year, he's 25th in passing yards. I want him to succeed, but to call him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now is plain wrong.
You were on target in your examination of today's organized youth sports programs (The American Athlete: Age 10, Oct. 6). The problems in youth sports axe obvious, but there are solutions that help. Among the most effective initiatives is the Fair Play method developed by Scott Lancaster and applied to the youth football programs he runs for the NFL. It eliminates the emphasis on winning and focuses instead on learning new skills, building teamwork and self-esteem, and having fun—all the things sports are supposed to be about. Here's how it works: 1) Make it fun; 2) Limit standing around; 3) Everyone plays; 4) Teach every position to every participant; 5) Emphasize the fundamentals; 6) Incorporate a progression of skill development for every participant; and 7) Yell encouragement, whisper constructive criticism. Success requires the active involvement of parents, coaches and other adults. Let's all work together to give the games back to the kids.
BOOMER ESIASON, Garden City Park, NY
The fact that a Center for Sports Parenting even exists ought to scare the hell out of parents. Instead of teaching our kids about winning at all costs, we could learn a lot more by just allowing kids to be kids.
Cal Ripken Jr. claims to be concerned about adults putting pressure on 10-year-old children. Then why does the league that bears his name sponsor nine-and 10-year-old regional and national tournaments? He seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth. Anyone who's been involved in these tournaments understands the pressure put on these kids to win.
JOHN O'NEILL, Norwalk, Conn.
Perhaps the most troubling quote came from the mother who says, "Our goals seem far-fetched now, but if he puts [in] the effort from here on...he'll succeed." In other words, if her son fails to live up to her lofty expectations, it's his fault because he didn't try. The nation's therapists must have read the article with glee, anticipating the thousands of dollars these kids will be spending on mental health services years from now.
PAUL HOLMES, New York City
Take This Job
You forgot to mention a fourth option available to Nick Van Exel (INSIDE THE NBA, Oct. 6). If he is not happy being paid over $10 million to play basketball, he can simply use his college degree to get a job in the real world.
DAVID GOLDBERG, New York City
Missing in Action
While all the receivers mentioned in Bigger, Badder, Brasher (Oct. 6) are talented, there was one notable omission. Michael Jenkins of Ohio State will break almost every school receiving record by the end of this season. He's 6'5", 215 pounds, has more clutch catches than anyone, and he's the only one with a championship ring.
JORDAN STROUSE, Westerville, Ohio
Like so many others who were completely taken in by George Plimpton's fable of the flame-throwing Sidd Finch (The Curious Case of Sidd Finch, April 1, 1985), I remain a great admirer of the story. When I take sports too seriously, I only have to think about how much I wanted that barefoot fastballer to pitch for the Red Sox, and then I remember that baseball is only a game. Plimpton (The Natural, Oct. 6) was a serious writer who helped us take our sports, and ourselves, a little less seriously.
PETER M. SHAPLAND, Concord, Mass.
When I read Hell on Wheels (AIR AND SPACE, Oct. 6), I found it humorous. How different it seems after the death of Dan Snyder of the Atlanta Thrashers. The column was written lightheartedly, but I hope everyone—not just athletes—will read it, remember what happened to Snyder and Dany Heatley and understand that traffic laws are not suggestions. They can be a matter of life or death.
VICKI ASATO, Scottsdale, Ariz
For the record, that's not Charles Barkley cruising around in a 1990 Toyota Celica with SIR CHLS plates—it's me!
AMY SHAW, Wallingford, Pa.