A Worldly Sport
Soccer is uniquely democratic among team sports as it doesn't matter whether you are tall or short, whether you are a skinny African kid or a large Dutchman or whether you are black or white or brown [June 14 June 21]. It is truly the global game. The World Cup is the most riveting of sporting events and now football's most multicolor carnival is being held in South Africa, a free nation for all of 16 years. It is a moment of both youthful optimism and expectation that imagines a future where once impossible dreams come to life.
One unmentioned advantage of soccer: all children can play, starting as young as 7. It requires no special equipment; it can be practiced in any neighborhood street or vacant lot; all team members except the goalkeeper undergo similar levels of activity, promoting sound physical and social development. Soccer should be included in PE programs throughout the country.
Yes, millions of American kids play soccer. But only when American kids have a soccer ball at home and spontaneously use their shoes or T-shirts as goal posts to play pick-up games in an empty field or in the streets will you know that soccer has finally arrived in the U.S.
The effort and achievement of South Africa in meeting the stringent requirements to host the World Cup is commendable. It is a pleasure to use the roads and the upgraded international airport. However, hosting the World Cup is not a panacea for our problems. Since the start of the World Cup, journalists covering the event have even been robbed at gunpoint. Perhaps, though, there is a legacy for this World Cup in South Africa: hope. Hope that South Africa can apply the abilities used to stage the event to improve all the other facets of life in Africa that need improvement.
Heidelberg, South Africa
Your World Cup special issue was much appreciated, but I must admit that some of the claims in "Yes, Soccer Is America's Game" had me spluttering. "America has always been the center of the universe" was admittedly a quotation, but "Face it, world: the U.S. is going to ... own your sport sooner or later" was direct from TIME itself. Face it, America: though you've always been good at individual sports, you have a lot to learn about international team sports. When the U.S. actually wins a trophy in soccer or any other truly international team sport, then maybe you can claim to be the center of the universe at least for a day. But until that moment, it's just a silly schoolyard boast.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Sorry, but Americans love the underdog and come-from-behind victories, so they will never be able to get into a sport in which a 2-0 lead is considered utterly insurmountable.
Spearfish, S.D., U.S.
Dying to Give Birth
"The Perils of Pregnancy" was one of the most shocking articles I have read in a magazine, as it brought the message of maternal mortality home [June 14 June 21]. That said, when I described the article to a friend, I didn't mention the article was about an African. Upon realizing that the story was not actually about a Westerner, my friend was less shocked. It made me realize the extent to which we sometimes view the plight of Africans. We must do more to change this perception, as a human is a human regardless of their socioeconomic position.
There are certainly better journalistic ways to bring this heartbreaking tragedy to the public eye than "The Perils of Pregnancy": ways that don't use pictures that breach the basic rights of intimacy and privacy. This somewhat arrogant report brings back memories of the old imperialist era, in which exotic pictures from underdeveloped countries were distributed in the West, subtly implying how primitive other people are.
As an African woman, I fully understand the dangers women face while going through childbirth. It is horrible and terrifying. What I do not understand is why you would publish those photos. Why would you do that to a woman who has clearly suffered through life and now has to be fully exposed for the whole world to see during death?
Ending the War on Drugs
"The Battle for Arizona" [June 14 June 21] does not contain the only sane and effective method of addressing the problem. The logical solution, considered dispassionately, to drug smuggling, Mexican gang wars, Taliban financing, much of crime in the U.S. and, yes, maybe even part of the horrendous government deficit, is the legalization of drug use not cracking down on illegal immigrants.