PATERNO AND LORCH
While there may be some disparaging comments made about your choice of Joe Paterno, the epitome of "Goody Two-Cleats," as Sportsman of the Year (Not An Ordinary Joe, Dec. 22-29), I am inclined to believe that the majority of such comments will come from those who lack his perspective on the game. Paterno has clearly shown that academic and athletic quality are not mutually exclusive. The fact that he was advocating this philosophy long before it was fashionable sets him apart from even the "great" coaches. From Bear country, here's to a Renaissance man.
H. MICHAEL MAETZ
Bravo! Joe Paterno represents all of the qualities and traits that we expect in our leaders, whether in sports, politics, education or business.
ROGER R. PATRIZIO
As the mother of a 5'10", 165-pound 13-year-old with a deep passion for football, I found your selection very encouraging. I had begun to wonder if the combination of a quality education and athletics with integrity was impossible. If my son's skills get him to college, I would like to know that there is a man like Paterno to lead him. Please stay 10 more years, Joe—we need you!
You couldn't have published any better articles during the holiday season than those on Joe Paterno and Ernie Lorch, coach of New York City's Riverside Church basketball team (ON THE SCENE, Dec. 22-29). These men are real-life demonstrations of everything athletics can be. Congratulations to these two coaches, and to the many others like them who truly care about their athletes' development as human beings.
LAS VEGAS'S STARK
God bless hardworking, successful individuals who are willing to take a chance on the abandoned, less fortunate people of our society (Rebel With A Cause, Dec. 8). Above all, Jerry Tarkanian is a realist. In a sport overwhelmed by a lot of self-righteous "purists," Tark succeeds because his players trust him as a man, a coach and a leader.
I was lucky to witness Tarkanian perform part of his miracle at Long Beach State. I still follow "the Shark" at UNLV and couldn't be more pleased with his success.
College coaches have a responsibility to see that their players graduate. Granted, few programs can have a perfect record in this area, but Tark isn't doing an athlete a favor if he throws him into a college curriculum when he can't read or write. If Tark believes he is giving such a kid a chance to make the NBA or become "responsible for what he does," then maybe he should be coaching in the Continental Basketball Association.
SCOTT C. GARRANT
West Hartford, Conn.
My nine-year-old golden retriever, Whit, was upset that another golden, Winnie, who can hold only three tennis balls, was featured in ANIMALS IN THE CROWD (Dec. 22-29). Here is a picture of Whit holding four tennis balls. Whit also likes to carry sticks on hikes. He once carried a six-foot stick, about three inches in diameter, up the St. Marys River Wilderness Area and back for a distance of some eight miles.
SI'S NEW LOOK
Kudos to design director Steven Hoffman on the redesign of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. When I first saw the Dec. 22-29 issue at my barber shop, the new cover format visually leapt out at me. I began to skim the magazine with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, worrying about what radical changes might have been made to my old, comfortable companion. By the time I had finished reading it, though, my fears had been allayed. And with the addition of the new feature POINT AFTER (any section that offers even occasional commentary by Frank Deford is fine by me), I believe I will learn to like the look very much.
I'm impressed. Such an overhaul was needed to properly present a publication of SI's quality.
MICHAEL L. POWERS