Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Americans' obsession with athletics, immunization and your rights, and words to describe extended family.

Athletics: Americans' unhealthy obsession?

In response to Jonathan Zimmerman's Nov. 20 Opinion piece, "America's addiction to sports": Mr. Zimmerman correctly points out America's occasionally unhealthy obsession with sports.

However, he fails to mention the purpose of academia supporting athletics, which is the education of the whole person: mind, body, and soul. Athletics generally leads to a finer education of the whole, as athletics offers important lessons in time management, discipline, and fitness.

Zimmerman's mentioning of the low weight of Olympic gymnasts is similar to college students abusing prescription drugs in order to compete with their classmates. Athletes, just like the rest of Western society, are competitive.

Condemning the current athletic structure of academia due to the abuses of the few does a great injustice to the tremendous impact that athletics has on the life of the many.

Marc Franzblau
Charleston, S.C.

Zimmerman's Nov. 20 Opinion piece about America's obsession with sports is right on the money. America's declining education system is a dirty little secret. Over the years, the school budget ax has hacked foreign languages, art, music, and even physical education in some schools. The team sports – especially the big income-producing ones, such as football, don't seem to have suffered a bit.

America wonders why it is losing its traditional international competitive edge – except, perhaps, in sports!

Zimmerman has the likely answer. When will the American education system wise up and not buy (literally) into the sports monopoly mentality? Or maybe it would be better to ask, when will America get some therapy and stop enabling the sports addiction?

Donald Dickson
Mexico City

Immunization or not: It's your right

In response to the Nov. 19 article, "One Maryland county takes tough tack on vaccinations": Once upon a time, the rights of the citizens of the United States were sacrosanct. They were sovereign, given legitimacy by the Constitution. It was guaranteed that undue pressure would not be brought to bear upon the people under penalty of law.

If parents in Maryland decide their child will not have immunizations, it is their right to do so. Does the state now presume itself to be a better ward of these children than their own biological parents are? I think not.

One only has to look at the ability of the state to manage anything to arrive at the proper conclusion.

It is my hope that people will wake up, reassert their claim on the rights that were defined, fought for, died for, so that these rights might be preserved for their progeny, who then don't end up less free at the end of their generation, as I did in mine.

Chuck Prather
Westlake, Ohio

More words needed to describe family

Regarding the Nov. 16 column, "Relatively speaking, a paucity of words": Perhaps we should go to other languages to fill this gap in "our vocabulary of kinship." Yiddish has the wonderful word mespochka, which means extended family. Or there's mechuteneste, which literally means in-laws, but is generally used to include anyone and everyone who gets invited to dinner for a holiday.

I'm sure there are similar phrases out there; let's bring them into English, where we can all use them.

Jane Beck
Roswell, Ga.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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