E.M. Swift's Sweet Lou from the Soo (Oct. 12) was more than a first-class article on Lou Nanne. It also revealed what the NHL really needs: a good kick in the pants. What was once billed as "the world's fastest sport" is now but a snail-paced relic of the game in which such greats as Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard thrilled us with their speed, crisp passing and dazzling scoring rushes. Today, as Mr. Swift mentioned, hockey is spoiled by excessive line juggling, smothering the puck and, of course, violence, which is not essential. When memorable games and players of the past are discussed, they are seldom, if ever, remembered for 300-plus penalty minutes, but for fine play and sportsmanship that characterized the hockey of the day.
Only leaders like Lou Nanne have the brains, ideas and savvy to give the sleeping giant a much-needed shot in the arm.
In an age when an athlete's salary is as important as his statistics, Robert F. Jones's article (Bang! Gotcha! You're Dead, Oct. 19) was a breath of fresh air. A competition in which the only prize is the thrill of having participated is the ultimate game.
One quibble: Mr. Jones states that his "was probably the last generation of American boys whose favorite game was 'war.' " I am 22 years his junior and spent countless childhood days waging "war." I'd be a wealthy man today if I had a nickel for every time I yelled, "Bang! Gotcha! You're dead!"
Mr. Jones's war game was great, but there has been a better war game in Covington, La. for the past seven years. Instead of paint balls, we use pump BB guns with the protection of fencing masks. The only injury I know of was getting shot in the hands when not wearing protective gloves.
When I was a kid, I used to play war with my friends. "Bang! Gotcha! You're dead," we'd shout. It was fun. So when I got old enough, I enlisted in the Marines and volunteered for Vietnam. Only in Vietnam, when someone shouted, "Bang! Gotcha! You're dead," it wasn't fun anymore.
Now I teach history at a Quaker high school. Until last week, I used to read articles in SI about football and hockey and swimming. And that was fun. Then I read Robert F. Jones's article, and suddenly reading SI wasn't fun anymore.
Some people learn about war the hard way. And some people never learn.
WILLIAM D. EHRHART
For four of us, playing "guns," as we called it, evolved into hunting each other with BB guns. We bundled up in winter clothing, with special emphasis on scarves and ear muffs. Our safety glasses were the old fashioned machinist's type with mesh sides. We hunted in a no-man's-land of scrub woods, abandoned farm fields, swamps and streams that were poised for suburbia and are now just that. The badge of courage was a BB that stuck in your cheek.
My mother wouldn't allow me to own a BB gun, so I had to borrow one. It was always an old single-shot type, had more power and greater accuracy than the more popular rapid-firing pump guns.