True spirit of amateur college athletics

Your March 17 article on the excellence of Kenyon College's coach Jim Steen and his winning teams was a great read but doesn't tell the full story ("How a small school swims to major dynasty," March 17).

What sets NCAA Division III athletes apart from Division I and II athletes is the full extent of their commitment to pure amateur athleticism.

Mr. Steen's approach and high-tech gadgets are commonplace in the world of Olympic and NCAA Division I and II athletic programs, which allow paid athletic scholarships and require year-round training, morning and afternoon workouts, and total focus of a student's attention. Many students, faculty, and parents feel this regime runs counter to the idea of a well-rounded student athlete who wishes to excel in a variety of sports -the goal of Division III schools.

As a former NCAA Division III head men's and women's swim coach, I had many athletes who took part in overseas study programs, plays, or special academic and volunteer activities. These choices obviously precluded a 1.5 million-yard workout season, which comes as part of the price tag for the Kenyon swimming superiority.

A student body that works toward full participation in a wide range of mental and physical experiences is the true spirit of the NCAA Division III. The fact that Kenyon has so far outdistanced its Division III rivals indicates not just supremacy; it perhaps indicates it is time to move up to Division II or I status.

John D. Hymes Jr. Murrells Inlet, S.C.

Another concern in the Balkans

Thanks for your map and "lowdown" on the Balkans ("Lowdown on a high-strung corner of Europe," March 16).

Because of space limitations, perhaps your report could not add what appears to be the largest danger: Greece's designs on Macedonia. If Greece were to attack Macedonia, this could touch off a world war, almost exactly the way World War I started.

Factors such as Russia's support of Serbs, Turkey/Greece antipathy, and Turkey's support of Muslims may make this a more difficult question to settle than Bosnia was.

We need prayer, a cease-fire, then NATO troop deployment, then more prayer.

Henry Rutledge Davis, Calif.

Taking issue with marijuana prohibition

I'm always amazed by the double-speak offered by bureaucrats attempting to justify the national ban of cannabis ("What teens hear in marijuana debate," March 22). In your article, Joseph Califano - one of marijuana's most vocal critics - claimed that we must "distinguish between the issue of medical marijuana and marijuana as a threat to America's kids."

It's so easy to play to parent's fears for their children. Yet one big reason for the demise of the first prohibition in the US was that it was responsible for skyrocketing alcoholism in children.

Marijuana prohibition is bad economic policy. It prevents US farmers from making a legitimate crop of hemp, a mainstay of our agricultural landscape well into this century. And it results in the denial of useful medication. The only reason that so many states have resorted to voter initiatives to rectify the situation is consideration for thousands of terminally ill patients.

Worst of all is the insane rate of incarceration in our country. Next year we are expected to surpass Russia in achieving the highest ratio of imprisoned citizens among industrialized nations. Perhaps a million will be held for nonviolent drug offenses.

Danny Terwey Santa Cruz, Calif.

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