If anything has outlived its usefulness (if it ever had any), it's atheism. Promoting a cause that's mostly about being against something is simply a dead-end street. Try being for something, something positive, life-enhancing, enriching, freeing, contributing to the wellbeing of others as well as yourself. Go ahead, try it!
Name withheld


Club soccer has gotten worse: I heard about this article from one of my teammates. When I read it, I agreed with pretty much everything that was stated ("Soccer Bomb," John Dickerson," December 18).

I've been playing for SC Del Sol for most of my youth soccer career, so I will not comment on Les Armstrong, because I never knew him personally. I do, however, agree with what he said about parents. I think that parents of competitive players have caused the biggest problems. From a player's point of view, it's pretty evident how parents try to embellish their kids' abilities, try to prove to other parents that their kid is better.

I believe money's thrown around and flaunted through the camps children are sent to, their personal training, and the equipment they use. The saddest thing is the bad-mouthing parents resort to during games. Many times, I've heard parents bashing on other kids' abilities during games, for everyone to hear, and when their own kid makes a mistake, they say nothing. I don't want to sound like I'm saying this about all parents. Sometimes there are maybe just a few of these [bad] parents with one team, but even one is too many.

There's an immense difference in club soccer in Arizona from when I was younger to now (as a U18 player). Clubs have become a lot more expensive, and false scholarship hope has been given to players. We're told that if we outplay everyone on the field, we'll be noticed. Coaches need to start explaining to their players the importance of their academics. I've not met one person to go on to play for a D1 college that had horrible grades.

I do know many extremely skilled players that are given a chance to play in community college, which for some reason is looked down upon by some soccer players, coaches, and parents. From my junior to senior year, about half of the soccer players I know have changed their mindset from a D1 or D2 to community college, including myself. The other half are still following the dream, while paying a good amount of money, and not having any guarantees.

I think these decisions should be placed in the hands of players with parental support. It's sad to see some players being forced into situations they don't want to be in. Some parents and coaches need to settle down and rethink what we all do. Soccer is a beautiful game. I love my team. We are a family. I just wish that all players at different clubs in Arizona could say the same.
Janele DeBaca, Phoenix

They're all playing the same game: It's interesting how Les Armstrong criticizes parents who use withholding of rides to other players as a means of competition, given that he demands that his players be unrelenting on the field.

If this is all in pursuit of the future reward (however illusory) of scholarships, then everyone appears to be playing the same game.
Mike Chichester, Glendale


Napolitano deserves better: For 30 years, Thursday mornings have been enjoyable periods, as New Times editions elicit anticipations. But Michael Lacey's assessment of Janet Napolitano's the closest thing to yellow journalism that he's penned ("Nope," Michael Lacey, November 27).

Considering the very, very few issues used to evaluate our governor, and let's include her public service as our former Arizona Attorney General and her career in the U.S. Department of Justice, she's faced mountains compared to any of us.

In the December 4 edition of New Times, columnist Stephen Lemons called the governor a coward ("Benedict Napolitano," The Bird), basing that assessment on just one issue. Call him an idiot jokester because he knows not Janet Napolitano.

Then, there were negative letter-writers in that paper called "name withheld" who came across as the most irresponsible nitwits ("No to Janet," Feedback).

But kudos to the positive folks complimenting the governor, respecting both her career efforts and the lady herself.

Overall, she deserves much better from the Arizona populace.
Don Begalke, Phoenix

High hopes for Janet: You've written a very informative piece about Janet. Thank you. I just pray that she'll do a good and effective job with Homeland Security.
Susan K. Stegemann, Phoenix

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G. Cohen
G. Cohen

Dear New Times:

The full page ad on page 4 of the January 8 New Times asks �Why does a Gazan child have to lose her life.� The clear and simple answer: because Hamas has killed her. Hamas military leader Nizar Rayan proclaimed in November 2006, �For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry in which excel the women and all the people of this land: The older people excel, the jihadists excel and the children excel. Consequently, [the Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, older people and jihadists against the Zionist bombing machine that is telling the Zionist enemy we want death just as much as you desire life.�

Israel does not wish to kill Palestinian children. Israeli�s do not wish to kill Palestinian children. Hamas picked a fight with Israel and then, like cowards, hid behind civilians so that the poor children shown in the ad would bear the horrible consequences of Hamas� actions. This is a clear violation of the international laws of warfare and armed conflict and, unfortunately, the results are grim but predictable. As a result, the only reason that Gazan children are dying today is the disgusting and cowardly way in which Hamas conducts itself.

G. CohenPhoenix, AZ

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