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Letters: Overtime debate is a toss-up

So Bill Plaschke thinks the NFL overtime rule is unfair [Jan. 27]. What would really be unfair is the team that wins the coin toss at the beginning of the game receives the ball, scores, and then the game is over.

Sixty minutes is plenty of time for each team. If it happens to be tied after regulation, then sudden death is the fair way to decide a winner.

Frank Lansen

Seal Beach

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In baseball, extra innings are played like a normal game. In basketball, likewise, the teams with the best records receive home-court advantage and overtimes are just an extension of the regular game.

However, in football, luck plays a huge role in determining the winner of an overtime game, as evidenced in the Saints-Vikings game. A coin toss to determine who will receive or defend first? Pure, unmitigated luck! The NFL, which has a history of despising any form of gambling, now expects teams to rely on gambling luck to help determine the outcome of games.

I suggest that the team that has either gained the most yardage or has more time of possession should get the choice. In this manner, the team that is performing the best that day gets the advantage, not the luckiest team.

J.J. Volpe

Long Beach

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If the Saints had fumbled that last kickoff, and the Vikings had recovered and soon scored, would Plaschke cry “Unfair!” because Favre didn’t have to take the ball very far, and the Saints’ offense never took the field in OT?

Luck is a part of sports, and in the NFL, anyone -- offense, defense or special teams -- might be called upon to shine under pressure. That’s a strength of sudden death, not a flaw.

David Daniel

Woodland Hills

Helping the NFL

For the sake of the NFL, here are six suggestions on how to improve the Pro Bowl to make it more palatable to its players and the public:

1. Move game date to early August. Eradicates baseball dog-day effect.

2. Free admission.

3. Award ungodly $5-million bonus for each player who actually bothers to show up to play game.

4. Have scoring players do mandatory touchdown dance in end zone; referees vote for best moves via review monitor and add extra points to team’s score.

5. Enlist celebrities as head coaches for each squad. Madonna or Justin Timberlake might draw up some interesting plays -- who knows?

6. Change the name to “Super Bowl Jr.”

Mark J. Featherstone

Windsor Hills

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If the NFL insists on having a bye week before the Super Bowl, as well as a later kickoff time which has now become standard (6:15 Eastern), then why not have the game on Saturday night? Having the bye week makes the wait too long as it is, so waiting 13 days instead of 14 after the conference championship games would not be a big deal. The next day (a Sunday) can be a day of recovery from all those Super Bowl parties.

Luke Aiello

Mission Viejo

Hail to the Lakers?

When is this foolishness of inviting college and pro teams to the White House going to stop? Such misplaced priorities become even more absurd when the economy and education are struggling so. The “be a jock, get to the White House” message is misguided and frivolous.

Troy Chinik

Pacific Palisades

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I see Kobe got some private time with the president. I am sure that he has a solution for the war in Afghanistan and new ideas for the economy and healthcare.

Matthew D. Kerster

Gardena

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I have to admit I was skeptical when the Lakers acquired Ron Artest -- for the wrong reasons, however, as it turns out. I assumed that we would need to concentrate on preventing him from punching fans and getting suspended. Little did I know that as the new year rolled around he would be playing abominably and that this would be attributed variously to falling on his head to celebrate Christmas, sustaining a phantom wrist injury and wearing ill-fitting shoes.

What we had always heard about Ron turns out to be correct; he is multifaceted.

Thomas Bailey

Long Beach

The No-Stars

The NBA All-Star voting is a mockery. Tracy McGrady was doing well early in the voting, and of course Allen Iverson getting in is a joke.

I vote for the following players to win positions on the All-Star team; and if they can’t play at least they could go and watch, and we can watch them watching.

Blake Griffin

Greg Oden

Yao Ming

Michael Redd

Gilbert Arenas

Please take the vote away from the fans. Most of them just don’t get it.

Steve LaRochelle

Chatsworth

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It’s laughable hearing the words “All-Star” and “Andrew Bynum” in the same breath. He’s disappointed? I’ll give you nearly 15 million reasons why Lakers fans are.

Perhaps this “slight” will light a fire under Bynum and he will realize that missing flights, missing defensive assignments and missing rebounds are not conducive to becoming an All-Star.

Geno Apicella

Placentia

Off-season blues

Despite the denials of Dodgers brass that there are no limits on team spending, it’s obvious that, rather than shopping for quality, they’re bottom-feeding, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Rather than pay the going rate for a Randy Wolf or a Ben Sheets, they’re bringing the likes of Russ Ortiz and various has-beens and unknowns to camp. Can Brett Tomko be far behind?

Jerry Walton

Valencia

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It’s nice to see the Dodgers slim down in departments besides payroll, and I wish Ronnie Belliard luck with that 209 weight limit the club has imposed. Of course, with Belliard listed at 5-8 and 180, all the club is really saying is, “Just show up less than 30 pounds overweight, and we’ll be satisfied.”

Howard Cole

Los Angeles

Out of the gutter

I was under the impression that the message of the media maintained that laid-off workers should expect a life full of misery, judging by the dearth of articles about such people who actually turn tragedy into triumph.

But I now see that my thinking was wrong, judging by the success story of Tom Smallwood [Jan. 27], who went from being unemployed to becoming a top star of the PBA bowling circuit. Congratulations, Tom Smallwood, for having the guts to follow your dreams.

David Tulanian

Los Angeles

Not Cable-ready

The most important requirement for almost any NFL head coach is that he be allowed to select his assistant coaches. Al Davis picks all the assistant coaches before even telling Tom Cable whether or not he will return as the head coach. And people wonder why the Raiders continue to lose.

Ralph S. Brax

Lancaster

Come sail away

So 16-year-old Abby Sunderland has set off on her dream voyage. A dream she’s had since way back when she was 13.

My question is, why aren’t her parents being charged with child endangerment?

Ray Uhler

Rancho Santa Margarita

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The Los Angeles Times welcomes expressions of all views. Letters should be brief and become the property of The Times. They may be edited and republished in any format. Each must include a valid mailing address and telephone number. Pseudonyms will not be used.

By mail: Sports Viewpoint

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