Metroland focused attention to an important social
issue: violence at sporting events [“Unhealthy Competition,”
May 23]. The article focused on parents’ violence at sporting
events, but the problem of sports and violence is far more
universal. Carnage at European soccer matches, schoolyard
fights and team hazings come to mind. Student athletes rape
women more than any other group. There are also less-overt
forms of violence, such as discrimination and verbal abuse.
Leave children to their own, and a playground will become
completely sex-segregated in minutes. Watch children play
a sport and you’ll see them yell and swear at their own teammates.
What accounts for these patterns of sports and violence? Playing
sports makes people aggressive and competitive, and it lowers
self-esteem. Psychologists conducted experiments where children
who have never played sports were placed on teams at random,
and after a short period, their levels of aggression and competitiveness
had gone up, and their self-esteem had gone down.
The issues go beyond the attributes of individuals. Several
social institutions contribute to the persistence of violence
with sports. Day-care workers and teachers let children pick
their own teams, leading to the ostracism of children who
are overweight, unathletic or unpopular. Athletes literally
get points for hitting people if they don’t get caught.
Some institutions reduce accountability for violence where
sports are involved. Authorities defer sanctioning to coaches.
School administrators invoke a “boys will be boys” response
to rape and hazing. If two men fight in the street, they can
be arrested; when two athletes fight on the field, they get
a penalty. A friend remarked, “Athletes do [illegal things]
because they know that they can get away with it.” Why do
we hold athletes in such high esteem that we pretend they
can do no wrong?
The competitive, win-at-all-costs structure of sports leads
to violence. The social institutions that maintain sports’
place in society are where we must focus our attention, if
we are to resolve this issue.
Say No to GMO
applaud Nancy Guerin’s article, “You’ll Eat What We Feed You”
[Newsfront, June 13]. I was disappointed and disturbed that
Assemblyman John McEneny decided to pull the GMO bill, but
I was not surprised. The fact of the matter is that we need
to learn more about the effects that genetically modified
organisms have on humans, as a public health issue. Also,
the manner with which they have been producing GMOs, the factory
farms and termination seeds have been unsustainable in their
relation to nature. Instead of bailing out his colleagues
in the Assembly, McEneny should have put the necessary pressure
on them to expose the issue to voters more clearly.
Assemblyman McEneny pulling the GMO bill shows the need for
a progressive third-party candidate to represent the health
and environmental interests of New Yorkers against the politics-as-usual
Democrats and Republicans in the state Assembly.
Green Party Candidate for New York State Assembly,
Not All About Parking
article “Same As It Ever Was” [Newsfront, June 13] is perhaps
one of the more shortsighted pieces on parking I have read
in the last few months. The article presents us with an either/or
choice: Either we make parking in Albany by permit or we will
have no parking whatsoever. The author, Nancy Guerin, then
proceeds to attack the state workers for protesting this move.
As a person who lives in downtown Albany with this problem
on a daily basis, I think there is a far better option. The
proposal to centralize the state office campus will bring
thousands more workers to the already-crowded downtown area.
Parking is indeed a problem—but will more garages change that?
I don’t think so.
What really needs to happen is the expansion of public transportation
in the Capital Region, an expansion that would include light
rail and a fully equipped bus service to handle the influx
of workers downtown. This would help alleviate the parking
problem tremendously, as well as making transit more comfortable
and affordable for thousands of Albany residents.
We also need to stop the growth of subdivisions and developments,
substituting real urban planning and multiuse buildings and
neighborhoods for the sprawl that contributes to car use.
Sidewalks, corner stores and light rail instead of sprawl,
roads and cars. This will take vision and strength to complete,
especially because the Democrats and Republicans, as the parties
of the automobile, gasoline, tire and housing corporations,
want subdivision and car use to grow so their coffers will
That is why I have been working with the Green Party—which
is committed to reliable, inexpensive public transit—and the
Citizens for Transportation to bring this issue to the fore.
Our next forum on this issue, hopefully leading to real mass
action, will be on July 27 from 2 to 4 PM at the Albany Public
Library. I hope Metroland will be there to cover it,
and not sitting back taking the same old, tired positions
Treasurer, Albany County Green Party
For the record, Metroland has published numerous stories
and commentaries on urban planning, sprawl, automobile overdependence
and mass transit, including coverage of recent attempts to
put light rail on the region’s agenda. This newspaper also
has attempted to increase public awareness of the growing
movement known as “new urbanism.”
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