If a coach chooses to inspire by shock, so what? In the instance of Wild Willie—the bull Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill (Who Is This Clown?, Sept. 20) had castrated in front of his players in an effort to educate, motivate, disgust, whatever—the animal survived the transformation from bull to steer, and Sherrill got the team's attention.
Do you remember Larry Canaday, the high school football coach in Eau Gallie, Fla., who received national attention in 1977 for biting off the heads of frogs to inspire his charges to get hungry for a win? I'm sure there are more entertaining methods used by coaches across the country, and I for one enjoy their creativeness.
PAUL G. PATALA
I grew up in the post- Jackie Sherrill days of Pitt football and remember vividly how fans at Pitt Stadium would cheer more enthusiastically whenever it was announced that Sherrill's new school, Texas A&M, was losing than they would when Pitt scored a touchdown. What bothered Pitt fans was not that Sherrill left but the way he left, without any warning or regard for his players or the university.
Although it hurts to agree with an archrival, Penn State coach Joe Paterno was right when he commended Sherrill's ability to produce a terrific football team but condemned his methods. It's a shame that a few Jackie Sherrills tarnish the greatness of college athletics.
T. WESTRAY BATTLE
Jackie Sherrill never lets his guard down? In May 1991 my family and I were vacationing in Florida, where we noticed Sherrill with what I assumed to be his family at a restaurant. When I approached him and asked if he would mind posing for a picture with my six-month-old son, he couldn't have been nicer. I enlarged the photo and sent it to him to autograph. It was returned within a week, along with a Mississippi State cap and a letter to my son, inviting us to Starkville and reminding my son to call him when he is "ready to play football for me."
One instance of bad judgment should not be the measuring stick of this man's character. Look at what he does for people he may never see again.
Mary Esther, Fla.
In your article An Upset by an Upstart? (Sept. 20), you describe Beijing as a filthy, polluted and overpopulated city unfit for hosting the 2000 Olympic Games. That's inaccurate. In fact, far from being "much like the Third World City from Hell," Beijing is on its way to becoming the world's next supercity. I encourage everyone to travel to China to see a great nation of the past on the rise.
My gosh, did William Oscar Johnson really visit Beijing? In July I was in that beautiful, nonsmoggy city. The people were busy building hotels and roads in the hope of hosting the Olympics. Polite and friendly, they were excited at the prospect of welcoming travelers to their city. In a city of 10 million people, the traffic does get a little crazy, but nothing like in Los Angeles, New York or Chicago.
The Chinese are emerging into a new way of life. Let's support them.
NANCY A. SHERMAN
South Sioux City, Neb.
Jim Abbott's No-Hitter
Jim Abbott is not flashy or arrogant and has no candy wrapper bearing his likeness. His no-hitter on Sept. 4 (A Special Delivery, Sept. 13) made for one of the rare times in the Bronx in recent years when bravado has been overshadowed by accomplishment.
WILLIAM S. W. POLLOCK