Marching Bands and Football

I appreciate your Nov. 25 Page 1 article, "A Texas Hand-Wringer: Is Football Too Popular?" Texas is not the only state where football has an exalted position in the public educational system. Throughout the mid-Atlantic and Midwest one can see the same distortion of priorities. There is probably no county in the state of Maryland where it is more prevalent than the county in which I live. There is another aspect of the article, however, to which I would also like to respond, and that is your inclusion of marching bands in the same breath with football teams. Marching bands are not adjuncts of football teams, although many high schools treat them as such. If football were to disappear from the face of our public school system, marching band would continue to be a viable and valuable activity in its own right.

Marching band as an independent activity is valuable because it develops musical, linguistic, mathematical, kinesthetic, and interpersonal intelligences. In our area, the students in the bands have the highest grade point average of any student group in their respective high schools. More band students go on to four-year colleges and complete their degrees than any other student group in the schools. There is an ongoing research to show the same results for Texas high school marching bands.

On the other hand, football players as a group have a lower grade point average and record for entry into college than the overall average for the schools. This should support the hand-wringing you report in the article. Thanks for having the courage to raise the issue.

Thomas F. Hawk

Cumberland, Md.

The meat of the problem

In contrast to earlier articles and news items about prospective world hunger, the Dec. 9 opinion-page article, "How the Food Summit Fell Sadly Short," discusses the food security impact of grain production needed to sustain the meat-eating habits of affluent countries. This factor is welcome. Simply stated, a bushel of grain fed to poultry will produce only a third of the nutritional value for human consumption as an equal quantity consumed directly by humans. The discrepancy is even greater for other meats. If our schools, news media, and other institutions educate the public, a more responsible society will emerge that could actually eradicate the tragedy.

Hollis Eatman

La Mesa, Calif.

Demographics and economics

Regarding the Dec. 10 opinion-page article, "Adam Smith, Social Investor," It seems to me that economists and social engineers that insist on growing the economy (increased production-purchasing power-wealth), fail to recognize that this also grows the population. This distribution among the many perhaps results in little actual gain for the common good.

If Adam Smith could have seen into the future, might he not have insisted that the common good was best served by an intelligent equilibrium of economic and population growth? Much wealth inures to society through the exploration of limited natural resources. Without limits also being placed on the exploiters and their machines, I believe that it will be difficult for us to be blessed with the economic and social wealth we envision. In fact, it appears that each decade of unrestrained economic and population growth will precipitate ever-increasing dysfunctional societies.

Walter Corbin

Orcas Island, Wash.

Getting politicians off the hook

The Dec. 13 Page 1 article, "Big Decision? Set Up a Commission," misses an important point. Yes, commissions may "coax nervous politicians into decisive action," but they also let politicians off the hook.

Francis X. Cavanaugh put it neatly in "The Truth about the National Debt": Politicians should not have the pleasure of spending (getting votes) without the pain of taxing (losing votes).

Philip Crist

Pisgah Forest, N.C.

Letters must include your mailing address. All are subject to editing. Mail letters to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail (200 words maximum.) to OPED@CSPS.COM.

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