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Bad Sports

To the Editor:

Recently, 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.

Paul Trowbridge

Just Say No to GMO

To the Editor:

I 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.

Joshua Lieberson
Green Party Candidate for New York State Assembly,
104th District

It’s Not All About Parking

To the editor:

Your 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 fill.

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 again.

Peter LaVenia
Treasurer, Albany County Green Party

Editor’s reply:

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.”

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at

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