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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Eliminate harmful college athletics

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In an era of a younger generation bent on divorcing and suing their parents, harassing their parents for expensive items so they can show off to their peers, and now unionizing school athletics, the March 26 National Labor Relations Board ruling claiming students who are given the wonderful gift of a free education proves one just thing ("College athletes can unionize, federal agency says," Web, March 26).

At a time when our nation's student performance drops lower every year and school attendance follows suit, America's schools at all levels need to drop athletic programs that distract from the schools' ultimate mission. Schools must once and for all put the focus back on students getting better educations. This is a far better use of time than playing games that waste priceless study hours one can't recoup.

While thousands of universities just suffered a collective heart attack, the NLRB decision is actually a positive immediate reason for all of us to finally have this long-overdue discussion. Hopefully, it will lead to our nation once again competing better intellectually and our students being worth more salary-wise owing to employers getting higher-quality employees.

Higher-paid employees mean increased consumer spending and more tax revenue for the national budget. Maybe we'll even erase our national debt in current college students' lifetimes.

Alternatively, we can do nothing, watching our college athletes skip out prematurely to the pros, many with questionable or worthless degrees and college-gained criminal records.

Eliminating distracting athletic programs will at the very least mean no coach will have to lie on his resume to get a job anymore, no alumnus can bribe a school, a program, or student athlete again, no player will surrender another Heisman Trophy for misconduct, and there will be no more point-shaving or game-outcome fixings.

As for the national epidemic of game-sustained concussions, broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, depression, suicides, costly medical bills and funerals, all of these would be dramatically lessened.

To those who will claim that student sports teach young people to get along with others different from them, I say, so does the classroom, social group activities, volunteering, Girls and Boys Clubs, Scouting, ROTC, working and hundreds of other, less-harmful activities.

A.J. CASTILLA

Boston

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