Steroids in baseball: zero-tolerance policy needed

Regarding your Dec. 8 editorial "Drugs In Sports: No Outrage?": In an age where there's a medication for everything from your sex life to the attention span of your children, it is not surprising that there is little public outcry following Jason Giambi's admission of steroid use. We enhance our performance with drugs all the time.

Pete Rose was banned from baseball for gambling on his sport because it was viewed as harming the integrity of the game. Ken Caminiti, the 1996 National League MVP, died at age 41 after admitting he won the award while on steroids. If baseball is serious about the integrity of the game and is as concerned about the use of performance-enhancing drugs as it is about placing bets, it needs a zero-tolerance policy.

Is the reason for baseball's slow response financial? Home runs sell tickets and fill seats, and baseball's single season home-run mark was suddenly broken twice in four years, while the the 60-homers plateau was exceeded six times.

Which is a worse example for our kids - gambling on baseball or cheating in baseball and gambling with your life?
Daniel John Sobieski

Honest Christmas letters, however messy

Regarding Carolyn Armistead's Dec. 10 Opinion piece, "The truth about those Christmas letters": I've always understood Christmas letters to be the opportunity to tell everyone about the craziest stuff that has happened during the year. Like dad buying three blowguns and a crossbow at a flea market and then having an impromptu skirmish in the living room. Or the night on vacation when one brother had to make like Indiana Jones and scale the walls of the condo to get up to our balcony because he didn't know which door was ours but he recognized our towels hanging on the railings.

As for the bragging, I think it would be tolerated much more if the letters described the efforts that went into obtaining whatever it is that is being bragged about. As a hypothetical example: "Mary had her first book published just last month, and it is a good thing too, because we got pretty tired of shuttling her to and from the library so that she could research this or that, plus no one else got to check their e-mail for three whole months because she was always on the computer!"

This year my husband is obsessed with the idea of making a movie to mail to everybody in the form of a DVD. Oy! A letter I can dash out in a day or so. But a movie? (There is no way I'm still going to be doing these movies when we have children.) And now there are people you can hire to write your Christmas letters for you. Sheesh.
Michaela Stephens
Chandler, Ariz.

Ford's support for high schools

The Dec. 7 article, "The Schoolhouses that Gates Built," appropriately commends the generous investment made by the Gates Foundation to improve America's high schools. However, the Ford Foundation has hardly "backed away" from the problems of inner city schools, as one commentator quoted in the article suggests.

In the past five years, we have spent more than $60 million in support of high- school reform in cities such as Newark, Houston, Atlanta, Columbus, and Los Angeles, and served as a donor to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which just won an unprecedented award of more than $5 billion for New York City school reform. Moreover, Ford has been a long-time funder of Middle College in Queens, N.Y., and we were pleased to be among the first philanthropic partners with Gates in the scaling up of the important model used at this college.
Alison R. Bernstein
New York
Vice President, The Ford Foundation

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