Your Pictures of the Year were awesome. I also liked the juxtapositions within the issue, which told a subtler story: Between news of the Mitchell Report and a column on the New York Knicks' woes, we saw joyful images of children playing soccer in Mogadishu and table tennis with makeshift paddles in China.
Matt Anderton, Yakima, Wash.
All of Montana is thrilled by SI's cover photo featuring Carroll College junior linebacker Brandon Day's euphoric reaction to the Fighting Saints' fifth NAIA national championship in six seasons (Pictures of the Year, Dec. 24). That photo was a window to this team's untold story. It's the story of Luke DenHerder, a tight end who returned to the gridiron after beating cancer, and his fellow student-athletes, who shaved their heads in solidarity during his chemotherapy. It's the story of athletes hailing primarily from rural Western towns, ranches and farms, from struggling middle-class families, who know the meaning of hard work and who haven't seen much glory in return. It's also about Mike Van Diest, a two-time NAIA Coach of the Year who has led the Saints to all five championships, while demanding that our athletes put God first, family second, school third and football last.
Thomas Trebon, President
Carroll College, Helena, Mont.
Your picture of amputee swimmer Anselmo Alves was an early Christmas present for physically challenged athletes who often compete in anonymity. The photo may inspire an amputee to take up swimming and reap the benefits of that sport.
Gerry Herman, Baltimore
An unheralded Picture of the Year was actually tucked into the Dec. 24 issue's Leading Off. Bob Rosato's photograph of Greg Camarillo crossing the goal line to give the Dolphins their first win of the year shows the unabashed joy that a game can bring to its fans. Just look at the two men hugging in the right center of the picture, or the exultation of the Ravens fan in the left center raising his hands, lost in the excitement of the moment. Thanks for reminding me why I love sports.
Dan Levine, Boston
The Picture This photo of BYU basketball player Jonathan Tavernari's eyes being gouged (PLAYERS, Dec. 24) looked like something out of a Wes Craven movie. Please tell me Tavernari was O.K.
Joel Sonenshein, Arcata, Calif.
EDITOR'S NOTE: BYU reports that Tavernari was not injured.
Thanks for your affirmation of the value of small-college football, not only in your cover photo but also in Pablo S. Torre's essay on the Football Championship Subdivision, College Football Like It Ought to Be (PLAYERS, Dec. 24). I played for a Division II team, the Puget Sound Loggers, in the late 1970s, and when graduated players returned to Tacoma from coaching internships in the Elysian Fields of Division I-A ball at the University of Washington, they invariably said the same thing, "Enjoy what you have, guys; you don't know how lucky you are." They cited joyless practices and games, and harassed assistant coaches responding to pressure from above by coercing players to play and win at all costs. I will always cherish our '78 team, which set a school record for most wins in a season and finished ranked ninth in the nation. And we had a ball doing it!
Chris Hegele, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Thanks for recognizing a great year for college football's FCS. Here's another big win by a small school that could have made your story: Northern Iowa's 24--13 win over Iowa State in Ames on Sept. 8. Northern Iowa, which went 11--0 in the regular season, is the school that produced former NFL MVP Kurt Warner.
Brian Stoskopf, Wilton, Iowa
You include Randy Moss among the poster children for the quaint, scandal-free FCS, but please recall that he blew chances at Notre Dame and Florida State for disciplinary reasons before ending up at then I-AA Marshall.
Chad Elder, Los Angeles
The Mitchell Report
In 1919 Major League Baseball had Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to respond swiftly and unequivocally to the Chicago White Sox' assault on the game's integrity. In 1963 the NFL had Pete Rozelle to tell Alex Karras and Paul Hornung that they couldn't play the game they had gambled on, and in 1989 MLB had Bart Giamatti to ban Pete Rose for life. And now, in the wake of Senator Mitchell's damning report on the last two decades of disgrace in MLB (Now What?, Dec. 24), we have the owners' marionette, Bud Selig, and the players' association's great enabler, Donald Fehr. Swift and decisive justice that would allow MLB to move on and put this shameful era behind it seems as likely as Barry Bonds's admitting responsibility and humbly asking for our forgiveness.
Barry Goldman-Hall, San Jose