We must begin to reassess sports and their influence in America, from Pee Wee Baseball to the Super Bowl. Athletics are fine—to a point. But when they begin to dominate the truly important facets of a person's life, something has gone amiss.
Although I respect Ms. Wilson's feelings, I beg to differ with her logic and reasoning.
The primary reason we have schools and colleges is to educate. Sports is extracurricular. Special education is offered for those students who suffer from learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
I understand Ms. Wilson's concern for her son's future, but by letting him have a free ticket through the educational system to play sports is only going to hurt him in the long run. Suppose Randy does rise to professional athletic stardom. When his career is over and he's pushing 35, what's he going to do?
MICHAEL P. O'BRIEN
As a mother, sports fan and former teacher, my heart goes out to Val Wilson and her son, Randy. I hope that Randy can find a sports program outside the school in which he can participate. Self-esteem is so important at his age. I was reminded by Ms. Wilson's article of how fortunate I am that my own son maintained "good grades" that kept him on his football team. That doesn't mean, however, that I can't see the educational flaw Ms. Wilson writes of. By preventing poor students from playing sports, boards of education are creating another of the "cracks" that students fall through en route to dropping out of school.
LINDA C. MEREDITH
AN OFF-COURT ALL-STAR
I feel that you have done an injustice to LaRue Martin (The View from Section 16, Row EE, Feb. 21). Over the last decade, LaRue has faced criticism and hardship in his chosen profession and withstood tremendous pressures placed upon him by the public and the media. He has managed to go on living, having grown from his experiences and shared his knowledge with others. I would like to share with you a "hidden" side of this man, who is not only an exemplary citizen but, more important, an extremely warmhearted human being.
Along with other retired and active professional athletes living in the Portland metropolitan area, LaRue has volunteered his time to serve as a leader in Project PASS (Pro Athletes for Student Success), which was established in 1982 under the direction of my Council on Health, Fitness and Sports. Project PASS has been designed to caution elementary-through-high-school-level students about the hazards of drug and alcohol abuse. This has been accomplished through class visitations from individuals like LaRue who have proven that success in the classroom is at least as valuable as success on the playing field.
The number of hours LaRue and the others spend counseling the young people of our state has gone largely unrecorded, but the benefit to our society is pronounced. These professionals serve as role models to a generation that is faced with greater social pressures at an earlier age than any before it. These fine individuals are sacrificing their time to demonstrate by example that today's true heroes do not need foreign substances to gain an advantage, but need only the proper frame of mind, desire and preparation.
I commend LaRue and the countless others for their efforts. LaRue may not have reached All-Star status in the NBA, but he has in his community. It may be easier to recount his failures as a professional athlete, but I would urge you to judge LaRue Martin on more than his performance on the basketball court. His record in life, helping others, deserves recognition.
Governor Salem, Ore.
DR. J (CONT.)
Reading your article on the Philadelphia 76ers and Julius Erving (This May Be One for the Books, Feb. 28) brought back memories. In the eighth grade I was 6'6" and towering over students and teachers. Our freshman team, composed of eighth-and ninth-graders, was superb. I started at center and scored 20 points a game. But I was not the star. I had the privilege of playing with Julius, as fantastic a human being as he is a basketball player. If memory serves me correctly, our team did not lose a game.