Your well-researched piece on the student-athlete hoax left the unfortunate impression that most physical-education courses are academic "fluff," a sort of pseudo-college curriculum existing to benefit the "dumb jock." While it is true that physical-education activity courses can be easily abused, it is also true that an athlete who fills his schedule with activity courses will not graduate with a physical-education degree. At most institutions, the path toward a physical-education degree involves a serious program of study that belies the image of the "gym major."
Unfortunately, some colleges have been negligent in failing to draw a line between physical-education-department and athletic-department responsibilities.
State College, Pa.
One proposal made in your article should be underlined: Abolish freshman eligibility. Let's allow the freshman athlete to get his feet wet in academics first. This change would curtail the "need" for academic cheating, because the pressures of that first year would be lessened immensely.
JACK F. KRACH, D.D.S.
Fort Wayne, Ind.
I have two suggestions to add to those that appear in John Underwood's fine story:
1) Require that every prospective scholarship athlete achieve a passing grade on a basic test in English and mathematics to demonstrate that he/she has the skills necessary for college work. The test should not be administered by the athlete's high school or by the college he/she seeks to enter. Probably the NCAA should take charge of the exam.
2) Keep SI writers involved in taking notice of the academic achievements of college athletes. Cite the Academic All-Americas, listing their majors, and also follow up on Top 20 football and basketball teams, noting how many senior starters graduate the following June, etc.
JOHN P. BALCER
Associate Professor of English
Shenandoah College and
Conservatory of Music
I suggest that new and stricter limitations be imposed on the number of regular-season and postseason games and upon the time devoted to preseason, in-season and postseason practice. Such regulations are urgently needed, not only for football and basketball, but also for baseball, swimming, wrestling and other sports. I might add that similar limitations are also essential for women's sports, because women athletes are subjected to the same unreasonable demands upon their time as men are.
BRUCE L. BENNETT
Why not entertain the heretical concept of abolishing intercollegiate sports altogether? Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. decided to do without them when it was founded 10 years ago. Physical activities were put into the hands of students, where they belong. Recreational athletics, as it is called, avoids all the evils of intercollegiate sports, including academic hypocrisy, involves a larger percentage of the student body and costs only a fraction as much. More colleges should be encouraged to try it.
Director of Recreational Athletics
I will repeat what I said when I wrote to SI from Vietnam in 1968 after reading Jack Olsen's five-part series on the exploitation of black athletes (The Black Athlete, July 1-29, 1968): as long as there are stadiums to be filled and profits to be made, nothing will change.
PETER J. COLES
Take a closer look at the schedule of your hypothetical "eligibility major," Earl T. Robinson. Your illustrator has him scheduled for two courses at the same time, on Tuesdays from 9 to 10. I'm betting that Robinson chooses to attend Theory of Basketball rather than General Biology.
C. P. SENNA