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Fans Come Out Swinging on Monitor's Olympics Coverage

Columnists create sparks. To some extent, that's why newspapers hire them. Our new sports columnist, Douglas S. Looney, certainly has fired up readers - pro and con - with his Olympic reports. Brickbats are par for writers of columns, but Mr. Looney wants readers to know that his article on women's hockey wasn't directed against women. He explains: 'It was a criticism of the level of play [that] is not good, especially beyond the US and Canada, because [women in] so few nations play.' Meanwhile, Looney's latest column on the Olympics can be found on Page B8. We hope you like it, sparks and all. Now over to our readers.

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As a subscriber to the Monitor for the past 50 years or so, I think I have the right to object to the sports writing being foisted upon us by senior sports columnist Douglas S. Looney.

His outlook and writing are juvenile, frivolous, and silly, as well as being revoltingly chauvinistic. And I'm not at all interested in his negative personal opinions. His Olympics opening salvo "Olympic Puppy Love Strikes Again" (Feb. 6) was insulting to those who take sports seriously. Please return the covering of sports to writers who have an objective, serious, adult outlook.

Jean F. Revilock

Natick, Mass.

"Puppy Love" was right on target, except for the conclusion that, like a sixth- grade crush, it means nothing. Those early crushes teach us about life, love, and relationships. The Olympics teach us about unity, peace, ethnic equality, and the goodness of human nature. It's an emotional event that reminds us of our similarities in a world where we too often are fighting over our differences.

Suzanne Soul

Vista, Calif.

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Whoa! I thought I was lost while reading the news at the beginning of the paper and finding the very opinionated "A Cold Serving of Humble Pie" (Feb. 9) on Page 3. Puleeez! Tuck something like that in the back.

And regarding the snowboarders - their beauty and grace take my breath away! As I watch my nine-year-old and his friends snowboarding, I can't wait to see where this sport is headed.

Martha Wigmore

Elk River, Minn.

Sportsmanship is often overlooked, so I applaud "Humble Pie." But the column digressed into a slam on snowboarding itself. The world's fastest growing sport, it is a legitimate sport requiring mental skill, strength, and balance. It is worthy of the Olympics even if the attitude is not.

Stephanie Averill


The "Humble Pie" column says that snowboarders "have enough earrings, pony tails, sloppy clothes, and attitude to open a Museum of the Absurd." I wear earrings, pony tails, and baggy clothes. Does this mean I'm a snowboarder? Not necessarily. In my case, it means I'm a 13-year-old girl. I am also a snowboarder, but what I wear has nothing to do with it. I'm not rude, and the only actual examples in the article show not a rude and rebellious attitude, but rather respect for officials and other snowboarders. Before you criticize snowboarding any more, try it. You may just get hooked.

Nora Matell

Bridgeport, Calif.

I was annoyed by the snowboarding column. The tone of the piece - petty and grumpy in an old-man kind of way - was irritating. But it was "Athletes and Hosts Bow to the Weather" (Feb. 10) that thoroughly disgusted me. How does an article about snow become occasion for railing against the Japanese? They're apologetic because of the "dust-up" at Pearl Harbor? Huh? They're shamefully reminded of the incident every time they see an American? Are you shamefully reminded of Hiroshima every time you see a Japanese?

I am embarrassed as an American to see such attitudes in print.

Scott Woodcock

New York

Looney's reports from the winter Olympics are excellent. His commentary "Women's Hockey - Spaghetti Without the Sauce" (Feb. 11), is both honest and perceptive.

Alistair Budd

Lindenfels, Germany

"Maybe the [women's hockey] play wasn't quite up to the standard of the men's game ...." Says who?

What standard might that be? Trying to propel your opponent through a sheet of plexiglass? Or, in a fit of sore-loserness, trashing your room in the Olympic village? If that's the fine standard we can expect from the men, I'll choose women's hockey any day. These women deserve respect for their achievement in its own right, and not in comparison with anything or anyone else.

Rebecca Raether

Madison, Wis.

The women's hockey story fails to distinguish between the subsidized Women's National Basketball Association summer league and the nine-team American Basketball League, which is independent of the NBA and dares to play during the men's season. The ABL, in its second season, averaged over 4,000 paid admissions per game.

Bring on a professional women's hockey league. Your contention that "women's hockey is trying to strut its stuff and does not yet have the stuff to strut" should be no deterrent to establishing the sport professionally. The ABL discovered fans who are less interested in strutting and "stuffing" and more interested in the intense nature of the women's game. Women's pro hockey might discover such an audience.

Don Bryant

Lake Oswego, Ore.

Your article disparaging women's hockey not only insults women representing the US in Nagano, but invites further damage to young girls as they craft visions of themselves and the roles they'll assume as they enter adulthood.

The message - that boring women's hockey has no place at the Games because the girls don't look as interesting in their uniforms as figure skaters do - confirms society's signals that make it difficult for girls to celebrate the body's growth and changes.

How different a girl's prospects if she sets her sights on hockey instead of figure skating: It's her task to become strong, adept, to learn how to work with others, and how to be a strategic thinker. Women hockey players on ice display those skills and inspire girls who don't want to have to mourn their entry into womanhood just because their bodies aren't someone's idea of what's exciting to watch.

Cathy A. Frierson

Durham, N.H.

I thought I was reading a parody of sexism. I am shocked and appalled that the ever-respected Monitor would ever print such blatant sexist content. I have observed both the footwork and the stick work of the female players and found both highly satisfactory. And by the way, Chicks Rule! Yes, they do.

Erin S. Buckhalter

Acton, Calif.

I am madly in love with Norwegian skiers and appreciate the rigors and solitude of cross-country. I also love the story "Cross Country: One Person Against Wild" (Feb. 18). Many thanks for giving these athletes the recognition and giving us this treat.

Ruth Raczka


I applaud your efforts to make the Monitor available to a wider audience. But I find feeble humor to be unappealing and inappropriate. While a sarcastic tone might fit the style of some local sports writers, it doesn't meet the standards Monitor readers expect. Thank you for continuing to "monitor" the tone of this great publication.

Cynthia H. Roemer

Paramus, N.J.

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