Letters from the week of February 14, 2002

Hall of Fame 

Letters from the week of February 14, 2002

He who laughs last: I've been meaning to write to tell you how great I thought Greg Hall's "Dick Ball" column was (January 17). I forwarded the Pitch Web site's link for the article to about everyone I know, with the preface, "This may be the funniest thing I have read in over a year." Kevin Brimmer's cartoon next to it is so totally true also.

My dad usually reads Hall's column, too, and the last time I went over to see him, I had a copy of it to show him. He had already read it, but he reread out loud, and we both were on the floor rolling around laughing by the end of it. At a party, friends and I were talking about it, and when one guy's wife asked about it, he said, "You wouldn't have liked it; it had at least two separate references to pissing that I can recall." Again, I almost fell over laughing.
Chuck Pattison
Kansas City, Missouri

Physical miseducation: Greg Hall's column on Greg Jones ("Poached Coach," January 31) piqued my interest.

First of all, I don't see it as particularly disturbing if high-school football coaches don't teach a class; most of the ones who do teach P.E. anyway -- as if P.E. is a real academic pursuit. If schools have the funds to hire someone just to coach football, more power to them.

Look, Greg, I see your main point -- that football and all athletics should be secondary to academics and mainly for fun at the high-school level. And I agree. But you don't give any sense of context about Van Buren -- what's its graduation rate? Does it have better or worse academic funding than other schools in the state? Does Jones make more than the teachers there? I think it's a serious stretch to suggest the school itself is "chok[ing] the good from something as simple as high-school football" because it has a nice practice facility, a big stadium and a nonteaching coach. If they're telling kids, "Win or we cut a finger off," that's "choking the good" from high-school football.
Joey Berlin

Select brands: Greg Hall closed "Poached Coach" with a paragraph about "select teams" in youth sports and what that might say about our own priorities. That, as some say in Arkansas, got me to thinking.

When I was a child, we had "traveling teams" in metro St. Louis. They were probably the forerunners of today's "select teams." Those teams, however, were very few in number. They were composed entirely of those who were truly gifted athletically.

Now it seems that half of youth sports is made up of these kind of teams. I often hear parents advocate "select sports" as the way to ensure their child an athletic scholarship and, therefore, a college education. The fact is that most of our children will not have the physical attributes and abilities to earn a scholarship to even a marginal institution. If parents instead invested each year the money they shell out for select sports, there would be a sizable amount available for education when their children reach college age.

My nine-year-old showed great promise at a position (goalie in soccer) where exceptional players are usually in high demand. We appreciated the opportunity for her to be part of an elite program, and she enjoyed the experience. But we (parents and child) chose to not pursue it.

This kind of program calls for a practice, a game or a tournament four days a week, forty weeks a year. It would have been like having a job at the age of nine.

I thought our society regarded the elimination of sweatshops and child labor as one of its great achievements. "Sports parents" need to ask themselves, "Is working from the age of eight or nine what we really want for our children?"
Steve Fernandez
Ballwin, Missouri

Fun at the ballpark: Some research of the Texas high-school environment would be enlightening as well. My response relates to your reference of the recent Kansas City Star advertisements regarding recruitment of athletes for competitive travel-sports teams. Having participated as a manager/ coach in the Junior Olympic Girls Fastpitch program for the last eight years, I want to emphasize that our team structures are designed for our participants to have fun. While we hope we are able to improve their skill levels, the purpose of the competitive environment and the opportunity to travel only enhance the maturation process of young student athletes. I as a coach am also striving to provide a structure for the athlete which will enhance discipline and time management as well as performance in the classroom so that these athletes become our leaders of the future.
Richard Gray
Jacked Up
Town fathers: Regarding Allie Johnson's "Jacking Around" (February 7): What a story about the city of Lone Jack. How can things like that go on year after year? God keep the family that lost their son and help all the people that try to do good in this town.
Peter Soto
Kansas City
Correction: Due to an editor's error, the first name of Lone Jack Police Chief Jeffery Jewell was misspelled in last week's issue.


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