Opinion | Readers critique The Post: Proposing a better layout for these sports pages

The Feb. 14 choice to put the Super Bowl winners on the front page seemed odd, especially because the back page seemed to be an alternate mock-up of a different Sports front page featuring speedskater Erin Jackson, who had just won the gold medal in the 500-meter event — the first Black woman to win an Olympic speedskating medal for the United States. And the great show of sportsmanship and teamwork shown by Brittany Bowe to cede her spot to Jackson, who had slipped up in the qualifiers, was beautifully shared in Jerry Brewer’s column, “Jackson’s gold serves both U.S. speedskating and representation.” Those two pages should have been flipped and the Rams put on the back, not the front.

And the large photo of Ryan Zimmerman with his stats on the last page of the section should have been the Feb. 16 section front. Seventeen years with one team, a talented ballplayer and a gracious human. The large photo of Russia’s Kamila Valieva on the front really deserved nothing more than an inside story and a photo in black and white. Child or not (she is competing in an adult sport), she was found to have used a banned drug and was still shockingly allowed to compete. She has stained the Olympics, and her sportsmanship is questionable at best. The whole front page should have been all Zimmerman.

The Cold War’s massive numbers

The Feb. 21 front-page article “Biden agrees ‘in principle’ to meet Putin” said, “More than 150,000 Russian forces are amassed at the Ukrainian border, marking the largest military buildup in Europe since the end of World War II.”

This is factually untrue. The United States had troop strengths in West Germany numbering more than 200,000 from the post-World War II period until the fall of the Berlin Wall. These numbers are attributed to a study on U.S. military deployments.

This is not to defend what Russia has done, but it does nothing to bolster confidence in one side to claim an untruth.

Matthew Makovi, Silver Spring

Thoreau’s evolving understanding of his Penobscot neighbors — and what that community was doing during his lifetime — would be an interesting topic for another article. For example, he wrote in 1846, “Politics are all the rage with them now.”

Steven Sellers Lapham, Gaithersburg

Did Miller mean what he said?

Joe Davidson’s Feb. 12 Federal Insider column “Ideas for revamping presidential transitions” included a response from Christopher Miller, acting defense secretary during the last transition, rejecting criticism of the Pentagon’s cooperation with the transition. Miller stated that the Defense Department provided “the most fulsome support and access in modern history.” According to my dictionary, “fulsome” means “offensively excessive or insincere” or “offensive to the senses; loathsome; disgusting.” Perhaps Miller admitted to more than he intended.

Steven R. Woodbury, Mitchellville

Cancer is no laughing matter

I considered the Feb. 16 and 17 “Pickles” comic strips featuring conversations about a colonoscopy to be insensitive. Colon cancer is a major killer of men and women and a grave public health concern. It was the fourth-most-common cancer diagnosis in the United States in 2021. These comics encourage the very attitudes that have kept Americans from pursuing this vital procedure.

A more enlightened and positive approach would mitigate much of the dread in the public that is reflected in these comics.

Robert A. Nover, Washington

A ‘rookie’ with experience

Later on, as a Coast Guard retiree, he requested and received permission to be a passenger on the Coast Guard’s three-masted sail training ship, the USCGC Eagle, on a voyage in 1972 from New London, Conn., to Portsmouth, England. On the Eagle, he spent his time in contemplation and slept on the lowest (orlop) deck of the ship so he could experience what his ancestors experienced when being transported as enslaved people from Africa to North America. He wrote about that experience in “Roots.”

Steven R. Ditmeyer, Alexandria

Sidney Crosby’s more impressive record

I read the Feb. 20 Sports article about Sidney Crosby on his scoring the 500th goal of his career, “500th goal solidifies Crosby’s legacy,” with interest and disappointment. In this Washington Capitals town in which the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Crosby is the ultimate villain, it was refreshing to read about his many achievements and solid character, combined with his goal-scoring prowess.

Sadly, the article made no mention of Crosby’s greatest asset: his unselfish assists on goals scored by teammates. Though Crosby’s recently scored 502nd goal puts him 44th on the all-time National Hockey League list, his current assist total of 873 and counting places him 23rd on that all-time list.

I believe I spotted Billie Jean King as well as Bella Abzug, in one of her signature hats, smiling joyfully among the leaders of the march.

The otherwise awesome Retropolis article on the 50th anniversary of Richard M. Nixon meeting with Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, “In 1972, Nixon shocked the world by visiting China,” contained one sentence that was potentially misleading. “No American president had ever been to China” is accurate only when expanded to “No [sitting] American president had ever been to [the People’s Republic of] China.”

In fact, former president Ulysses S. Grant visited China on his 1877-1879 world tour, and future president Herbert Hoover was in Beijing during the 1900 “Siege of the Legations.”

Our ties to China run broad and deep.

H.R. Spendelow, Washington

The Kennedy Center’s worthy offerings

Peter Marks’s Feb. 20 Critic’s Notebook, “After 50 years, the Kennedy Center needs to broaden its ambitions,” argued that the Kennedy Center should present new and original musical theater and not just revivals. I would make the same observation about ballet at the Kennedy Center. Since Septime Webre left the Washington Ballet in 2016, there have been very few, if any, new, original ballets there. We have since been fed a steady diet of “Nutcrackers,” “Giselles,” “Swan Lakes,” “Don Quixotes,” “Le Corsaires,” “Coppelias” and similar lovely but familiar fare, by the resident Washington Ballet and visiting companies.

I fondly remember Webre’s creations, such as “The Great Gatsby,” “Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises” and “Sleepy Hollow.” And these performances were well attended. They made our regional ballet company something special, not an American Ballet Theatre or New York City Ballet wannabe, as is now the case.

I hope the critic’s call for “broader ambitions” at the Kennedy Center will happen to ballet there as well as musical theater.

Peter Marks is missing out on some great performances at the Kennedy Center. After reading his Feb. 20 Critic’s Notebook and agreeing on some level, I encourage him to dig deeper and dare him to try some of the unique and amazing programing happening along the Potomac River.

Consider David Sedaris, Alan Cumming, the NSO Pops, Bill Murray and Jan Vogler or Adam Carolla who walked the audience through his life in photos and a hysterical narrative. Freestyle Love Supreme improv or a Juan Atkins techno dance party — yes, a DJ with lights and a turntable and string orchestra performers. All from a lounge chair next to the stage. So cool! I am forever spoiled by the Nordic Cool festival performance of Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” and Heidi Schreck’s “What the Constitution Means to Me.” Two totally different yet impactful stage performances.

However, my favorite has been an artist I had never heard of before her shows at the Kennedy Center, Amanda Seales. Her “Mo’ Betta Wu” and “Smart, Funny and Black” performances were brilliant. Seales’s ability to combine so many art forms in one performance is mind-boggling. Both shows provided great music, humorous comedy, a dramatic stage performance and a much-needed educational message. She is truly a one-of-a-kind artist who indeed deserved the Kennedy Center platform, and this is just one of many examples of how the Kennedy Center is broadening its ambitions. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Christine Mica, Alexandria

Judging the judges — and naming them

The person behind a Feb. 11 federal court decision that at least temporarily bars the Biden administration from using “cost of carbon” calculations in such decisions as whether to grant oil and gas leases on public lands is not simply “a Louisiana federal judge,” as he was described in the Feb. 22 Politics & the Nation article “Judge bars Biden administration from weighing climate costs in decisions.” The judge in question is James D. Cain Jr., who was nominated for the post by then-President Donald Trump in August 2018.

There is remarkably little independent journalistic information about this judge; an Associated Press article announcing his appointment was just five sentences, and his name was seldom in The Post before he made this ruling. Therefore, readers inclined to do the research don’t have ready answers to key questions, such as whether he has a record of pro-fossil-fuel advocacy, either as a judge or in his previous role as a partner in the Louisiana law firm of Loftin, Cain & LeBlanc.

But Trump’s support for the oil industry and disdain for regulation to prevent worsening climate change are well known. It is therefore important to know that it was a Trump appointee who handed down this ruling. Republicans have been particularly clear in recent years that their aim for the judiciary is not to call balls and strikes but to make sure their side wins the game.

Given this politicization of the judiciary, journalists should not allow judges to hide anonymously behind their robes. Tell us their names and where they are coming from.

Isaiah J. Poole, Washington

An opportunity to praise ‘Mother Scott’

I commend The Post for researching and compiling a database on members of Congress who were enslavers [“Post readers help identify enslavers in Congress,” Metro, Feb. 20]. I was surprised and pleased to see the photograph of Esther Mae Prentiss Scott included. Her granddaughter, Ruette Watson, shared a 1977 interview with “Mother Scott” in response to The Post’s call for readers with a family history involving enslavers. Mother Scott’s knowledge extended back to her grandfather Monroe Prentiss, an enslaved person on the Mississippi plantation of congressman Seargent Smith Prentiss (he served from 1838 to 1839).

Mother Scott was a national treasure who played the guitar and sang blues and gospel music. In the 1970s, as a high school teacher in Prince George’s County, I brought her into my English and humanities classes at Potomac Senior High School to relate her historical perspective and wisdom. I believed she could help ease racial tensions after court-ordered desegregation (busing) in the county. Her philosophy was best expressed in her song “Keep a-goin’.” Her songs were interspersed with life stories and amusing sayings. She told about her early days when her family members were sharecroppers picking cotton in Mississippi. She sang Leadbelly’s “Midnight Blues” and the spiritual “Down by the Riverside.” My students clapped and sang along.

In 1958, Mother Scott arrived in D.C. and worked as a maid. She began to be asked to perform her music in various venues. In the 1960s, Mother Scott became involved in civil rights activism, including demonstrations and marches. At her 1979 funeral, I joined a crowd walking around St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, singing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I want to be in that number of people who praise Mother Scott.

Lois F. Morris, Silver Spring