Is the Joe Paterno who is being criticized for either not recruiting superior athletes for Penn State or not deploying them properly (A Very Sorry State, Sept. 18) the same Joe Paterno who was SI's 1986 Sportsman of the Year? Is this the same Paterno who was praised for having both a high winning percentage and a high graduation rate?
Who can criticize a coach who helps raise millions of dollars for his university and its library, brings immeasurable prestige to his school and wins two national championships in a decade (with a style that "failed to change with the times")? Maybe SI. Maybe some disgruntled fair-weather fans. But not those of us who understand the significance of Penn State football and its coach. The day Penn State becomes "A Very Sorry State" will be the day Paterno retires.
HARRY WILSON ( Penn State '78)
It's about time Paterno got what he deserves: a good, swift verbal kick in the pants. Despite winning two national championships in the 1980s, Paterno has never let go of his '60s playbook. This year's criticism and the probability of another yawnathon season won't change a thing either. We'll probably find the old coach at his best, moaning about the media. Maybe he'll get up the courage to throw a reporter out of the locker room—even if he won't throw a pass.
NO NATIONAL TV
Hats off to Rick Reilly for delivering a knuckle sandwich to the people involved with national telecasts of high school football games (POINT AFTER, Sept. 18). These folks don't seem to appreciate the fact that somewhere right now there's a 145-pound quarterback from Nowhere High who is preparing to suffer through four quarters (if he's lucky) of getting creamed by a future first-round NFL draft choice who wants to show the country that he has the potential to make pro quarterbacks shake in their shoes. We should be discouraging, not encouraging, this mentality.
Free Soil, Mich.
I am fearful that the decision of the National Federation of State High School Associations and SportsChannel to televise high school football games nationally will lead to a cry for national high school rankings and a national high school championship tournament. I do not know who would benefit from such experiences, but I'm convinced it would not be the athletes. If they do not benefit, then one has to ask who would, and at what price?
Brookfield ( Wis.) Central High
Televising high school football on local cable is O.K. I have seen games with student producers, technicians, cameramen—and no commercials—and they are rather amusing. But, please, not on national TV.
I couldn't agree more with Reilly's criticism of the plan to televise high school football games nationally. I have a problem, though, with your listing of a high school player as a future All-Pro in your pro football preview (1995 All-Pro Team, Sept. 11). If that's not pressure, I don't know what is. It's this sort of hypocrisy that is ruining high school and college sports.
ANDREW K. BUCHANAN
TENNIS ETIQUETTE (CONT.)
Steve Wulf's POINT AFTER (Sept. 11) defending crowd noise and movement at tennis matches could only have come from someone who has never really played the game. The hush that falls over a tennis stadium, particularly just before an important point, is one of the delightful things about the sport. It brings an intimacy and an intensity that few other sporting moments can match. And the players aren't alone in wanting quiet. The spectators do, too.
People wandering in the stands at a baseball game are so far from the field that they are of no concern to the players. People doing the same at a tennis match are close enough to intrude on the play. Those who know anything about the game stay put.
Come on, Peter Gammons (INSIDE BASEBALL, Sept. 18). The worst knock against an athlete is that he isn't trying, which is what I understood you to be saying about Ruben Sierra and Julio Franco and their allegedly "blas�" second halves.