Reading E.M. Swift's article on SI's Sportsmen of the Year (A Reminder of What We Can Be, Dec. 22-29) brought tears to my eyes. However, my tears were shed for all the high school. Junior, Pee Wee and Midget hockey players who will now be subjected to a plethora of "Herbies" and forced to endure cruel and harsh treatment from coaches who share Herb Brooks' perspective on winning. I submit that the U.S. hockey team would have achieved even greater heights without the handicap of having to cope with Brooks' coaching philosophy. Does Brooks' coaching strategy truly epitomize the American spirit? I say emphatically no!
West Hartford, Conn.
Much of what you purport to deplore in amateur athletics could be remedied more easily if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED and others stopped expressing boundless admiration for overbearing jerks like U.S. Olympic Hockey Coach Herb Brooks.
A. PETER HOLLIS
My compliments to E.M. Swift on his brilliant article on the U.S. Olympic hockey team. I also know the meaning of "Herbies" and sympathize with the players. As one who has played youth hockey in Massachusetts, I can attest to the sheer brutality of doing Herbies early Saturday and Sunday mornings after a particularly galling loss the preceding night. One Saturday morning, when the temperature was hovering around five degrees below zero, we repeatedly did Herbies—or leg killers, as we called them—until we almost died of exhaustion. And this was the start of practice. At the conclusion, we did another six. Needless to say, this woke us up and we hammered the opposition the next night.
La Grange, Ga.
Hats off to Herb Brooks and to Minnesota Viking Coach Bud Grant (When the Dust Cleared, It Was Minnesota, Dec. 22-29). I can't think of many things more inspirational in sports than the way these two have shown how the underdog is never out of it. Perhaps Brooks and Grant can be faulted for their methodologies, their aloofness and their individuality—but they know how to take young men whom "knowledgeable" sports scribes write off and do the impossible with them. If that's not what coaching is all about, then tell me what is.
Bob McMahon's analysis of the best and worst sports towns (SCORECARD, Dec. 15) is extremely misleading. How dare he suggest that on the mere basis of percentage of seats filled Cleveland is the worst sports town?
The Browns regularly draw 75,000 to 80,000 fans. And how many cities have 10,000 fans show up at an airport in the middle of the night to welcome their football team home after a victory—especially when the win (over Houston) wasn't even in a playoff game?
As for the Cavs, in the 1975-76 season, when they almost went all the way, they set an NBA playoff attendance record of 21,564 (capacity for the Coliseum) and matched it in three subsequent playoff games.
The Indians have drawn more than a million in attendance the past two years, had more than 200,000 fans at one series last summer and have the largest opening-day crowd in the majors every year. Saying that Boston is a better sports town than Cleveland when Fenway Park holds fewer than half the people Cleveland Stadium does is absurd. When its teams win, Cleveland is the best sports town on earth.
Isn't it interesting that while Bob McMahon rates Boston as the best sports town in North America, it is reported in the same SCORECARD column that both the Bruins and the Celtics might move to a new sports complex in Salem, N.H.?
The best pro sports town is Houston.