Sportsmanship and Honesty

I appreciate the commentary "Final Four: A Lesson in Losing Well" (March 30). My wife and I are constantly remonstrating against the "winning-is-the-only-thing" attitude that televised sports seems to push on young people, including our sports-fanatic son. Learning to lose gracefully is one of the primary reasons kids should participate in sports.

Our eight-year-old is also a Cub Scout, and as such he's regularly reminded that he must always "do his best." If we could modify that motto we'd add, " even if it's not good enough to win, and respect yourself and others for trying." Certainly the NCAA games were worth watching because the fine young sportsmen were all trying their hearts out.

In a way it's a shame that displaying honesty like Stanford's Mark Madsen did is newsworthy. Like all parents coaching kids, we want our son to believe that honesty in sports is as natural to the participants as the desire for a gulp of cold water. It would sure help us if big-time sports commentators and fans would abandon those individuals that flaunt the "I-am-not-a-role-model" attitudes. Sure, "bad" guys are fun to boo, and a contrast to those that "want to be like Mike."

But televised sports are not just about entertainment value, they're about values being demonstrated, too. Who would we rather include at the family dinner table - Mark Madsen, who was a rebound short of being a champion, or Dennis Rodman, rebounding's world champion?

Howard E. Clark

Hopkinton, Mass.

The article about the Stanford player who admitted his mistakes reveals a core problem with your senior sports columnist: his negative view of the players. The piece was predicated on his belief that sports players are mostly dishonest or underhanded. But few people advance in sports while maintaining a "cover-your-tail" attitude.

What Mr. Madsen did was laudible, but it was not front page news - it is too commonplace. In high school and college, every person I know who did well in sports would be the first to acknowledge a mistake on his or her part. Honesty is vital to becoming a winner; it's part of the game.

Thomas Gallant

Waldoboro, Maine

What about the Lady Vols?

Did I miss something? Last week there were a number of articles on the NCAA men's championship. What about the Lady Vols? Tennessee not only won their third consecutive women's NCAA championship but they did so after an undefeated season, something no men's team did this year. The Monitor seems to be following the regular American press - this "by the way, the women also played" attitude is not satisfactory from what I consider to be one of the best newspapers in the world.

Dan Keding

Springfield, Ill.

Schools and big business

The News in Brief Etceteras column (March 30) mentions the Georgia students who were suspended for wearing Pepsi-logo shirts during a Coca-Cola-promotion day at school. This illustrates why I am very wary of corporate-sponsored education.

Can we imagine a US history course written by General Motors (think labor movement), or Boeing (could they not glamorize the role of aviation in combat)? How can we teach the value of the First Amendment if free expression is stifled in the classroom? Kids can see through corporate propaganda, and they should be allowed to express that.

Corporations have an agenda to push and schools that rely on that money are forced (by fear if not by mandate) to toe the corporate line. I'm not saying businesses can't help financially troubled schools, but to make the education they pay for work fairly, the funds must come with no strings attached.

David White


The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Letters must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Mail letters to "Readers Write," and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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