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Sunday, March 25, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Backtalk

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SWIMMING

If we can afford two stadiums...

As the parents of a 13-year-old girl swimming for the Puyallup Aquatic Club, we share the dismay expressed by our coach, Rick Benner, concerning the lack of support for competitive swimming facilities in the Puget Sound region ("Swimmers may go elsewhere", Times, March 21).

We travel 40 to 150 miles daily so that our daughter can train with one of the best coaches in the United States. While we are more than willing to make such sacrifices, it is not fair to ask a dedicated coach to make proportionately greater sacrifices of time and income. Or to expect that world-class athletes like Megan Quann will continue to succeed under these conditions.

Coach Benner is more than a talented swim coach. He is a teacher of the highest caliber. His vision is to teach kids about commitment.

If Western Washington can support two playgrounds for millionaire football and baseball players, why can't we find the dollars to build a few first-class swimming facilities that will provide value for everyone in our communities, from the beginning swimmer to the next Megan Quann?

Steve Delehoy and Linda White, Kent

BASKETBALL

Gonzaga plays game the right way

I cannot tell you how pleased I was to see "Zag success is no secret" (Times, March 21) by Bud Withers that pointed out that the "key ingredient at Gonzaga is old-fashioned basketball."

I have loved the round-ball game for more than 40 years and actually manage an easy one-on-one now and again. I must admit, however, that I have increasingly avoided the NBA's wrestling matches since the sport started catering to the public's rising thresholds for blood, guts and sheer muscle mass in place of technique, discipline and finesse.

The NBA has to throw away some of its depravity, and clean up the game by, 1) a hand on the body is a foul, 2) replace hops and as many steps you can muster by the old two steps, 3) call a foul when a larger mass backs a smaller mass right down to the hoop for a kindergarten one-foot hook, 4) call fouls under the hoop, 5) toss unethical and criminal behavior off the court and out of the NBA, and finally, 6) tell the announcers to stop complimenting the hatchet men.

Give me a break; I want the game back.

Harvey Gillis, Snohomish

XFL

Blame media for league's bad ratings

The media is attempting to kill the exciting XFL with that most dreaded of weapons: ignorance.

Coverage equals interest! The media has been lazy, not bothering to watch XFL games for content to allow fair consideration by football fans. Since the inaugural game, practically the only coverage offered on the XFL is "ratings are down" doom-saying.

The XFL has high-powered and faster games, innovative like the do-or-die Canadian "three down" football. The XFL features players you know, like Rashaan Shehee (Washington's own!) and Tommy Maddox (recent Bronco) of the L.A. Xtreme.

Why watch? Seahawk 50-yard line ticket: $68. XFL's: $25.

Why watch? The L.A. Xtreme (love 'em) successfully punted to themselves in the sold-out opener against the San Francisco Demons, adding a whole new dimension to punts.

No one knows it's this cool. Tune in.

Josef Douglas McCoy, Olympia

UW TRACK

Huskies aren't on the right track

Nice of Blaine Newnham ("Neuheisel puts his glow-power to work at UW", Times, March 18) to note that Rick Neuheisel showed up for the UW-UCLA men's basketball game. Too bad Neuheisel won't do the same for UW track and field. Too bad The Times isn't willing to point out how Neuheisel and Athletic Director Barbara Hedges have destroyed the sport of track and field at the UW.

You can't view a track meet from the upper decks at Husky Stadium, because the lines of sight were designed for football, not track and field. Hedges' refusal to allow the football clock to be used during UW track meets is just another indication that she views track and field as dispensable as the UW swim team. More evidence is that the UW has just one home track meet this year.

Football is a fall sport. Track and field is a spring sport. But at the UW, Hedges and Neuheisel demand that football be a year-round sport.

If Neuheisel wants to put some of his "glow-power" to work at the UW, he should help mold the track and field program into a Pac-10 powerhouse.

David E. Ortman, Seattle

Send us your backtalk

Letters bearing true names, addresses and telephone numbers for verification are considered for publication. Please limit letters to 125 words or less. They are subject to editing and become the property of The Times. Fax them to 206-464-3255, or mail to: Backtalk, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. Or e-mail to: sports@seattletimes.com.

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