The month starts out strong with comments from Press Pros readers around the area…and around the country. More than just football presently, it seems there’s a lot on people’s mind.

Out of the blue, one of the best and strongest responses came from a reader concerned with ethics and sportsmanship, and whether we’re all sending the right signals.

“Mr. Fulks, I write to say that I’m deeply concerned over things you’ve written in the past concerning fair play, ethics, and the example of sportsmanship that we should all be emphasizing to young, adolescent athletes. When you make comments such as “ejections have nothing to do with sportsmanship”, when you make light of the practice of throwing illegal spitballs, when you question the practice of handshake lines after the game, I strongly disagree and point to the responsibility you must exhibit with a platform as broad as this website. As a citizen of Wisconsin, where we’re trying to present the better attitude for competition and the character of competition, I’m disappointed that you choose to question, as you did back in your February column…if we value political correctness over teaching kids to win. Winning is fine. But winning without making fun of an opponent, or reminding the visiting crowd that they’re getting beat on the scoreboard is always preferable as it relates to the future of how we all play and live together.” … Jonathan Yune

(Ed. Note: Jonathan, in a perfect world, perhaps, but we’ve been at this now for 2,016 years and as yet no one has even come close to making it perfect. As far as ejections, I’ve also written that it has more to do with ‘gamesmanship’ than sportsmanship, unless that person goes beyond the point of making a fool of himself or the game. Many coaches do it for sheer fan entertainment. And by the way, no one’s mind is scarred by seeing a coach or player tossed from a game…and I’m talking about professional and college sports here, not high school. Some states have already experimented with abolishing the practice of handshake lines to lessen the possibility of fights (Kentucky). They do happen. And as far as illegal pitches in baseball, your issue isn’t with me, but rather with Christy Mathewson, Lefty Grove, Johnny Sain, Gaylord Perry and other iconic names in pitching, each of them responsible for inventing a different way of making a baseball move off a straight and direct plane to home plate. What I hear you advocate is not taking, or creating, a competitive advantage. That it’s OK to say I didn’t win, but I showed up and I was polite. Now, where’s my trophy? By the way, people have used the phrase, “If you’re not cheatin’ you’re not trying” for years…in jest. Humor is just as important as sportsmanship, which is why the kids are chanting in Racine…with humor more authentic than mandated hand-shaking. Rent a copy of Grumpy Old Men, Mattheau and Lemmon. Try having some fun up there in Wisconsin.)

On the August 9 post about our sixth anniversary, many were kind to write and share an opinion on what we do, and how we do it.

“Congratulations on lasting this long, because people as opinionated as you aren’t usually tolerated six years. Thanks for not being afraid to tell a story with an edge. It’s rare in today’s journalism.” … Joe Bookwalter

“Congrats on your anniversary, and for having the foresight to believe that some of us still appreciate reading not only what happens, but why it happens.” … George Kuehn

“The fact that you wrote about the movie ‘Concussion’, and that you wrote about it when you did, is impressive. As you say, all of us have grown to appreciate ‘good’ news, while believing that it’s unnecessary and just plain mean to share the facts about failure. “Keep it positive, optimistic.  Don’t dwell on a lopsided score, and if at all possible make sure to say that the fact of losing is always trumped by good effort and sportsmanship.  Wouldn’t be a bad idea to add, too, that both teams deserved to win,” you wrote. This is what we’ve all come to believe as the truth, regardless of circumstance. So now we’re  a culture unwilling to accept responsibility for anything, not just losing a basketball game.” I agree with Mark Twain (“An optimist is simply a dreamer more eloquently spelled”).” … Marc Howenstein

“Even three hours away Press Pros stands out as an example of imagination and good journalism. Keep up the good work.” … Russ Massey  (Portsmouth)

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Our August 21st column from Tom Cappell about an inherited shotgun drew some popular audience, as well.

“What a great story, and one that reminded me of my own Model 12 story…and an uncle just like Uncle Mel. Good work.” … Gary Neff

“I’m writing to tell you how much I appreciate the gun and hunting stories you include with your website. I’m well past my own hunting years now, but reading your stories brings back a lot of great memories. I’m sure there are others like me who wish you’d do more of them.” … Ray Adams

(Ed. Note: Ray, one of the reasons why I like to share outdoor and hunting content is because I grew up reading publications like Outdoor Life, Field and Stream, and writers like Erwin Bauer, Byron Dalrymple, and Ben East. They were a formative part of my childhood and taught me a lot about how to appreciate nature and our natural resources. Hopefully, there are others who will read that here and experience the same impact.)

Finally, there were more emails and comments about the August 29 column about Colin Kaepernick’s protest than there is space left in this edition of Reader Speaks. Perhaps more in the future, but here’s a sample:

“You nailed it. You absolutely did. So right on so many points about growing up in America and making the right choices regardless of hardship. There are too many rags to riches stories out there to believe otherwise.” … Patrick Morris

“I question whether you appreciate enough Kaepernick’s right to peaceful protest, or the fact that we all have that right above all others as Americans. You might have thought about that before you wrote.” … Terry Dye

(Ed. Note: I fully appreciate that right, but the gist of the column wasn’t about his right to protest. He can protest all he wants.  Rather, it was the irony in his protesting that America has oppressed certain ethnic groups…when the country is full of the same people who have made good decisions from the start about education, opportunity, priority and appreciation for the system. Why must the protest always be about the glass half empty, and not the glass half full?  The irony is that Kaepernick himself took advantage of the system to great success, as have many other African-Americans in the National Football League. And it’s true that not everyone can play football, but we have like people in every walk of life who CHOSE not to be oppressed, and made the most of it.)

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