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August 20, 2007
Grand Slams
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August 20, 2007


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Grand Slams

Coaches and discerning fans know that it takes more skill to haul a man down in a messy pileup than it does to blindside a player who isn't looking. Anyone can deliver a "big hit," but it takes real football prowess to stay in your gap, ward off blockers and take on a ballcarrier who has all the momentum.
Allen Salter, Evanston, Ill.

The big hit is what keeps the fans coming back (Big Hits, July 30). If players are afraid of being hit, they should trade in their shoulder pads and helmets for tennis rackets.
Brian Lattman, Scarsdale, N.Y.

Tim Layden writes that "football without concussive hits is Ultimate Frisbee." That's why I play Ultimate Frisbee.
Matt Weiss, Pittsburgh

The answer on how to play football more safely can be found in the old black-and-white NFL films. There you see no missilelike projectile hits. What has changed is the "protective" equipment. Today's hard plastic helmets and shoulder pads encourage blind dives and devastating collisions. Football players of old were motivated by self-preservation to tackle with their shoulders and arms, keeping their head out of harm's way.
Mark Millar, Seal Beach, Calif.

As a former rugby player and coach, I see a simple solution for the NFL: Adopt the rugby rule that requires the tackler to wrap his arms around the tacklee. Not wrapping results in a penalty. As a result of this rule, rugby has fewer injuries than football, despite its players wearing less padding. Check out your cover photo—Sheldon Brown does not appear to be attempting to use his arms at all.
Brock Ellwood, Grand Rapids

Your story showed how pro players suffer the big hit on Sunday afternoons. But at least they can moan all the way to the bank on Monday morning. What about the young men who take hits on Saturday afternoons but never make it to the pros? Colleges that sponsor scholarship sports should contribute to a national health insurance fund so that student-athletes who don't make a pro team can pay for medical expenses later in life.
Thomas A. Mauro, DeWitt, Mich.

Approximately 208,000 people each year are treated in emergency rooms for traumatic brain injuries sustained during sports or recreational activities, and almost two thirds of those people are between ages five and 18. The Centers for Disease Control has developed tool kits to increase awareness of the problem and improve prevention, recognition and management of these injuries. For more information, go to
Ileana Arias
Director, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, Atlanta

Stiff Upper Lip

Your caption "Quiet Suffering," above the picture of Sergio Garc�a (LEADING OFF, July 30) after he missed his British Open-winning putt on the 72nd hole, was correct in describing that moment. But afterward Garc�a engaged in immature whining. Instead of showing that he could be a gracious loser, he came off as a crybaby by blaming bad luck, slow play and a higher power. Jack Nicklaus won 18 majors but was a runner-up in 19 others, and he was humble and gracious whether he won or lost. Sergio should take a page from Jack's book and learn how to accept losing with dignity.
Sterling C. Proffitt, Keswick, Va.

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