Even though I, too, am a middle-aged ex-Marine (and a small-college teacher), I've always disliked and distrusted people like Sullivan. I believe there are better—more gentle, more polite, more humane—ways to motivate and teach young people.
But until I read The Toughest Coach There Ever Was, I believed that such martinets were driven by narrow, sadistic, selfish impulses. Frank Deford's article enlarged my understanding and my tolerance. A magnificent piece of writing by one fine person about another.
Surely Bull Sullivan's dismissal from East Mississippi Junior College was a poorly handled act of jealousy. However, even though he may have been an innovative and winning coach, to canonize a man who couldn't differentiate between Okinawa and junior college football is wrong.
My apologies to Sullivan's family, but if half of the incidents related in Frank Deford's article were true, Bull Cyclone was a twisted man who used his considerable intelligence to physically and, more important, psychologically terrorize and humiliate the young men who were foolish enough to stay in his charge. I can't accept that a few humane acts made coach Sullivan a swell guy. Even psychotics—and I don't mean to suggest that Sullivan was a psychotic—have their good days. The fact that Sullivan was a good parent and read his Bible just doesn't excuse his behavior on the gridiron.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
THE STRIPER AND ACID RAIN (CONT.)
Robert H. Boyle's special report A Rain of Death on the Striper? (April 23) presents a strong case for adding acid rain to the list of suspected contributing causes of the catastrophic decline in the East Coast's striped bass fishery.
However, he overlooks an important point when casting a shadow of doubt over the wisdom of a moratorium on the possession of striped bass along the East Coast, as called for by a House bill, H.R. 4884 (not H.R. 4844, as reported). If, as seems likely, chemical contaminants, including acid rain, are affecting striped bass, they and their sources must be identified and a plan developed to remedy the situation. Then comes the inevitable struggle with industry and officialdom to institute corrective measures. Obviously this will take many years, which raises the question: What happens to the already severely depressed resource in the interim?
Without an indigenous stock, even an immediate return to pristine waters wouldn't benefit the striped bass. Since the brood stock is already viewed as being at a dangerously low level, fishing mortalities must be reduced or eliminated altogether. A moratorium may buy the time needed to address the contaminants problem. In the case of the striped bass, to focus on contaminants and ignore fishing-induced mortalities would be as foolish as doing nothing.
New York State representative to the Interstate Striped Bass
? Boyle's point was not that a moratorium on fishing for stripers would be bad, but that to consider such a moratorium the solution to the problem would be foolish.—ED.
Robert H. Boyle's striped bass piece is the most penetrating and provocative analysis of the topic that has been made. It should define the matrix for all future research and, one hopes, start the bureaucrats and scientists on a course that may save the striper and other species. All of us who care about stripers, and life, owe him our gratitude.
JOHN N. COLE
?Reader Cole is the author of the book Striper: A Story of Fish and Man.—ED.