Don't make student athletes an oxymoron

In response to your Jan. 15 article "Under this plan, 'dumb jock' may be an oxymoron": As it stands, Division I NCAA schools are nothing less than "farm teams" for professional sports. True, student athletes (not an oxymoron) are unable to participate in sports in these schools because of the dominance of semiliterate, nationally recruited physical freaks who happen to be able to run faster or throw a ball farther than all but a few percent of the total population. The problem is, of course, the "quick fix" of cash for sports to which financially strapped state university systems have become addicted.

Let's hope the NCAA rules make a difference, but the real problem here is with higher education accreditation standards.
Alan Hull
Framingham, Mass.

In response to "Under this plan, 'dumb jock' may be an oxymoron": Forget the rules. Merely demand that the schools educate. Each school that grants a scholarship must guarantee that the athlete will graduate. Period. If it takes four years, or 24 years, the school will be there for that student. If the student leaves after two years to go pro, the school still has to guarantee that it will provide the education needed to get a degree. If the student gets injured and can't play, the school still has to guarantee a degree. The purpose of schools is to educate, isn't it?
Ted Gutelius

For military kids, war has become real

Regarding your Jan. 14 article "For Bush, rising bar on Iraq war": The photograph of the soldier kissing his wife and child goodbye says it all (kudos to your photo editor). As a wife and a mother of a little girl like the one crying in the picture, I was moved to tears right there in front of my mailbox as I pulled out the Monitor.

With tens of thousands of our nation's precious children watching their parents ship out, war is no longer a patriotic abstraction. Unless President Bush can convince me that: (1) Saddam Hussein presents a clear and present danger to our children (not just our oil interests) and (2) war is our last and only remaining resort, he just hasn't done his job.
Heather Honegger
Lafayette, Calif.

Politicians addicted to urban sprawl

Regarding your Jan. 10 editorial, "Westward, Stop!": It is not rocket science to look at the availability of water and the rapidly growing population of the West and to predict that there will be problems.

Unfortunately political leaders in the West ignore the obvious because they are addicted to growth; it's a great Ponzi scheme. Now we are experiencing a real hangover with the problems of the recession and the drought.

But our leaders are prescribing more growth to get over the current water and economic problems. That's like alcoholic gamblers seeking to recover from the hangover by more alcohol and more gambling.
Albert Bartlett
Boulder, Colo.

How far can a Muppet message go?

Regarding your Jan. 14 article "A Muppet tackles AIDS attitudes in South Africa": Kami, the Muppet with HIV, is a nice idea, but I do wonder about its effectiveness. We have a TV audience in South Africa of about 14 million, out of a population of more than 40 million. That means Kami's message is only reaching a third of our people - and where the need to combat discrimination is most pressing, you won't find many TV aerials.

I suppose all efforts should be welcomed, but far too many seem to be concentrated on those who already have resources to address the problem of AIDS. There are still too many who don't have any help at all.
Mandi Smallhorne
Johannesburg, South Africa

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