Your article couldn't have been more to the point. When I read it, I still had a headache from participating in a high school all-star game the night before. The game was more of a street fight. People cheered the late hits and the punching. I find the coaches don't teach these techniques, but the crowds urge this type of play on. Don't eliminate the helmets, eliminate the crowds.
Canoga Park, Calif.
For a man who "loves the game," John Underwood will do more to intensify the "crisis in football" than the helmet and the few misdirected coaches combined. As a high school coach of 20 years, I support his attempts to soften the outer covering of the helmet, to rid the profesion of the few remaining coaches who teach punishing the opponents with the helmet, and to expose the failure of some officials to call illegal use of the helmet as clearly outlined in the rules.
But the hysteria developed by Underwood and authors of other studies on the topic is a result of faulty definitions of injury. Most "injuries" are contusions, sprains, etc., whose effects, for the most part, are short-lived. Most coaches annually attend clinics where trainers and physicians present the latest techniques to prevent injuries.
If football were as brutal as the article suggests, there would not be 1,750,000 people playing the game. Certainly fathers who had participated would not allow their sons to become involved if the experience were as physically devastating as Underwood implies.
With lovers of the game like Underwood, and with friends like SI, which displays a cover labeled "Brutality," who needs enemies? Friends and lovers, thanks but no thanks.
Windham High School
I have been playing organized football since I was 8. I have watched as the spear, butt and spike have replaced the shoulder block and tackle. A week ago, while-engaging in a drill during a practice session with the semipro Baltimore Warriors, I was the recipient of a "spear" to the head that was delivered with such force that my own helmet shattered into three pieces. Fortunately, I was not injured. Since then, I have read Underwood's article and seen a tape of the tragic, though legal, hit by Jack Tatum on Darryl Stingley. I retired from the Warriors yesterday. Come September, my 8-year-old son will be playing soccer.
GEORGE M. CHURCH
I congratulate SI for its willingness to address critical ethical questions that must be faced if pro sport is to play a positive role in our nation's future. I respect you for having the guts to act as a social critic for the sporting world. Keep it up.