The Wrong Stuff

Final verdict: When I read Robert Wilonsky's article "The Right's Stuff" (September 9), I came to one conclusion about both liberal and conservative extremists: They're all fucking morons.

Pablo Ampuero

Sins of the lefties: You wrote a fantastic article on the Protest Warriors. It's obvious that the peaceniks only like free speech when one says what they want to hear. The left has sued the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the left has sued Fox News for using the slogan "fair and balanced," and now they simply assault decent citizens who support the president. I'm glad that your usually liberal paper has the decency to expose the sins of the left.

Bob Smith

Unfit for Coaching

Pressure to "juice": I am writing in response to the letter from Matt Garver that appeared last week (August 26). Mr. Garver tells us that he is "appalled" that anyone could insinuate that a baseball coach would make a kid do steroids by telling him that he needs to get bigger in order to make the team. He goes on to make the argument that when a teacher tells a student to keep his grades up, that the kid should not infer that he is being instructed to cheat. I think Mr. Garver unknowingly made the point that I have been making all over the country. Let me explain what I mean.

Before our teachers are released to supervise and teach our children in the classroom, they have to complete four or more years of formal study. After completing their schooling, they have to be supervised in the classroom by a teacher who has been trained to supervise them during this student-teaching period. Then, after doing all this plus passing their college exams, they have to pass a test issued by the state of Texas in order to be "certified"--to prove that they are qualified to be in a classroom setting alone with our children.

Things are very different when it comes to coaching. There is no formal training required before a coach is turned loose to supervise our kids--there is no test to pass and no certification required. Yes, these men and women are good people with the best of intentions, but they do not have to pass any minimum threshold to demonstrate that they are qualified to lead our children.

When a coach tells a young man that he needs to "get bigger" in order to make the football or baseball team, I don't believe most of our coaches are "qualified" to make such a statement! Do our coaches receive any formal training that qualifies them to "teach" these boys how to get bigger? For example, do they receive any formal training in dietetics that prepares them to show the boys what they need to eat in order to gain the proper weight that they are being asked to gain? Are they trained to show the boys what exercise programs to undertake to put on those extra pounds? Have the coaches been tested by an independent authority to demonstrate their abilities to be a coach? I think we all know that the answer to all of these questions is "no."

With respect to "cheating," there are clear rules that govern what goes on in the classroom--and those rules are made clear to the students. From the first day of school, kids are told that they are expected to do their own work, and that if they get caught copying others' work or taking other short cuts, they will receive a failing grade. There are active steps taken to monitor whether the kids are cheating--and there are strong penalties that are implemented when kids get caught!

Things are quite different in athletics. In some Texas school districts, there are not even any formal rules against the use of steroids. I have learned that coaches rarely, if ever, invest time with the kids letting them know that the use of performance-enhancing substances like steroids is dangerous to their health, is cheating and that they will not tolerate its use. Our kids are never tested to determine if they are using these illicit substances. The coaches are not trained to recognize the signs of steroid abuse and are not trained on what to do about it if they were to find that their athletes are using steroids. As a result of all this, there are no penalties facing the student athlete if he gets caught using steroids.

Mr. Garver seems to be satisfied that our 16-year-old boys somehow know that use of steroids is tantamount to cheating and should not be done. What Mr. Garver forgets to take in to account is that when one-third or more of the athletes on some of our high school teams here in the Dallas area are "juicing," the peer pressure to use steroids is extremely high. Many feel the need to use steroids just to keep up with those players that are using. And the fine example that is being set by many of our professional athletes only makes the pressure to use even that much more intense.

In this environment, it is just not enough for a coach to take the position that "I never told one of my athletes to use steroids." Our coaches have more, much more, responsibility in this situation than that! They need to be taking active steps to prevent their players from using steroids, active steps to detect its usage, and they should have a formal program in place to deal with it when they find out that their athletes are using.

Mr. Garver suggests that if Taylor could say anything, he would not blame anyone but himself. Well, sadly he is not alive to make this or any other statement, and I resent any suggestion by Mr. Garver that he knows what Taylor would say. So in Taylor's absence, let me ask Mr. Garver and other coaches in our area when they are going to stand up and accept the responsibility that comes along with their charter? I am still waiting for our local athletic and elected officials to step forward and tell us what specific steps they are taking to help curb this rampant abuse that is going on across North Texas--in almost every high school athletic program that we are aware of.

I am listening, Mr. Garver.
Donald M. Hooton

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.