My compliments on the excellent coverage of the Olympic basketball team. One question, though: Why do you continue to stand up for Bobby Knight? I admit he's a great coach, but his constant outbursts and unsportsmanlike behavior are ridiculous. I think SI should stop giving Knight credit for his coaching until he is able to grow up and show the public that he can go through a whole game without having a fit.
New York City
Joan Ackermann-Blount's story on our national women's power volleyball team (The Waiting Is Over, July 23) reveals some of America's finest athletes. Their sacrifice for their game is a large one—much greater than many would make. However, you can ask any athlete in a truly amateur sport, be it volleyball, field hockey, speed skating, archery or Nordic skiing, and you'll find that they feel the sacrifices are well worth it—the feelings of exhilaration and personal satisfaction derived from these sports are immeasurable.
It's too bad that most Americans, in the words of Marlon Sano, "just can't relate to it." They're really missing something.
Perhaps someone will find better words to describe the obsession that is volleyball, but Flo Hyman comes close when she says, "When it all works well, it feels like...you're playing a song."
The song that Flo and her friends play deserves to become a gold record.
Junction City, Ore.
I read with interest Steve Wulfs article about Cincinnati fireballer Mario Soto (His Bad Rep is a Bad Rap, July 23). In my opinion, Soto is the best pitcher in baseball, and I have grown tired of seeing him unjustly criticized for his fiery temper. Like John McEnroe, Soto is a professional at the top of his game who plays at a level of intensity and emotion that is both exciting and inspiring. I watch sports to relax and enjoy vicarious thrills, and so it is infinitely more interesting to see an athlete like Soto or McEnroe than someone who performs with robot-like detachment.
MATTHEW H. JONES
New Albany, Ind.
Steve Wulfs article on Mario Soto was just the remedy needed. Maybe because of this article people will finally take the time to understand the man and the circumstances before judging him.
Soto shows—to me, anyway—a lot more than just talent. He shows loyalty—something rarely found in baseball these days. Once he controls that temper of his, he'll be unstoppable. Or in other words, Sotorific.
There is certainly no disputing Mario Soto's extraordinary pitching talent, but I was perplexed and disappointed to see Steve Wulf and SI attempt to vindicate Soto for his past altercations on the playing field. Showing that Soto is a nice guy, and that he may have been provoked in these incidents, simply doesn't change the fact that he threw a baseball at another player. Cincinnati manager Vern Rapp defends Soto by saying that he was only protecting his livelihood in these scraps, but if that is so, does it justify endangering not only another man's livelihood but also his life by retaliating with a baseball? Someone could have been killed by a man capable of throwing the ball more than 95 mph. Soto's subsequent five-day suspension and $5,000 fine were inconsequential to a man with a $6 million contract. It's a shame that a player like Soto, with so much talent, reacted in such a poor way in Atlanta, and that SI has used its pages to influence readers to see this despicable act in a more favorable light.
MICHAEL W. YEN
I enjoyed Bil Gilbert's article (Can We Live in Peace with the Grizzly? July 23) on the plight of the grizzly bear in the U.S. I agree with Gilbert when he states, "I'm solidly pro bear." In the article, both Gilbert and Dr. Chris Servheen seem to say that the worth of the grizzly lies in the special experiences he makes possible for man, or in the lessons man can learn from him. Unfortunately, this man-centered perspective clouds many issues in our society, both environmental and otherwise. I believe that the true value of the grizzly is inherent in the fact that he was created by God for existence on earth. In this sense, man is a partner with the grizzly, and we are thus obligated to do what we can to allow the grizzly's continued existence in this ecosphere.