The People's Voice is in the clear

Dan Wetzel

Steroid talk continued to pour in, so we'll do one last week of it. And just so no one gets bored, we'll also hit on the black coaches/Notre Dame debate.

Thanks for all of the feedback; each week it is amazing what pours in. As always, my individual responses appear in italics.

Now on to The People's Voice. . .

DRUG CHEATS ("The perfect setup" December 5, 2004, and "A dark time" December 2, 2004)

Is there anything keeping the players union from making its own strict drug testing rules? No particular reason MLB has to be cops here. The players would make a huge statement if it were a union rule that everybody be clean and subject to random and frequent testing.

R. Doherty
Lynden, Wash.

Yes: the union's steroid-using members.

The government has no business in baseball. Should they demand actors be tested for plastic surgery? What about models? Aren't steroids without a prescription illegal? Why don't they start by enforcing those laws?

The government has no right to interfere with baseball, but I am sure they will use that old standard, the "interstate commerce clause," to usurp more power.

Ken Mills
Southaven, Miss.

I'm torn on this issue. I'm usually against government interference. But most of these drugs are illegal, lots of public money builds the stadiums, and there is a fraud factor. Pam Anderson is not claiming they are real; baseball says it is.

If MLB does not reach a new steroids testing agreement and Congress makes good on John McCain's threat and passes legislation, what are the chances the federal courts would uphold a law outside of the collective bargaining agreement? And how would an American law be enforced against players from the Toronto Blue Jays?

Dan Wadle
Newton, Iowa

Imagine if liberal Canada legalized "the cream" and "the clear." The Blue Jays would kick ass. The Nationals would be trying to return to Montreal. Vancouver, Winnipeg and Moose Factory all would get franchises. This could be Canada's way of getting back at us for what Gary Bettman did to hockey. One national pastime ruined for another.

I may be in the minority, but I don't care about major league baseball players and steroids. They make a free choice to use these drugs and the potential downside is theirs, not mine. If baseball makes it illegal that is one thing. But if it hasn't been illegal until recently and these guys used them, so what?

I frankly see many more problems that our society has than a few entertainers using steroids, so it is just not on my radar screen.

Mike Bauer
Commerce Twp., Mich.

If baseball wants to level the playing field and let everyone use whatever they can, then that would be fair. Many fans would be lost, but it would be fair.

Just a comment about Bonds. With all of the talk about his being a great hitter, I'd like to point out that if just 20 of his 73 homers had landed in the field of play as outs, his average falls from .328 to .286. When you consider he never hit more than 49 homers, it is plausible that the steroids gave him the extra 20 homers.

Ron Bower
Dallas, Texas

Hammerin' Hank, too, is wrong! The illicit drugs in question – steroids AND human growth hormone – DO help users hit the ball better, not merely farther! Along with getting stronger and being able to recover faster from exertion, users of these drugs improve their reflexes and their hand-eye coordination. Even their vision is improved.

Dan Hand
New York, N.Y.

BLACK FOOTBALL COACHES ("Forcing the issue" December 10, 2004)

I take exception to your comment that a black football coach has to "win, and win big" to open the door for other minority candidates. Sure, there is pressure on white candidates to be successful when they are hired, but I don't think there would be a moratorium on pursuing white coaches if a member of that group were to fail. To set the bar impossibly high for African-American coaches only perpetuates the deplorable situation that exists today.

Michael Cryer
Mt. Laurel, N.J.

It may not be fair, but in my opinion it is what needs to happen. College football has never had the John Thompson figure who, by running a successful, championship program, changes the way universities view black coaches.

I thought your comments on successful recruiting of black athletes as the key way to demonstrate the value of a black head coach was right on in many ways, but begged the obvious question: Why wasn't Ty Willingham successful at getting more blue-chippers at Notre Dame? Bob Davie had more success (at least according to the recruiting gurus) under similar academic standards.

If black athletes had decided to band together to support black coaches, perhaps ND and Michigan State would be playing for the national championship. But ... it is a mystery to many ND fans why Willingham, whom his players loved, wasn't more successful recruiting blue-chip athletes, particularly African-Americans.

Bob White
South Bend, Ind.

It is not just black athletes but also white ones who see this as a problem. That it hasn't happened tells me people really don't care about this issue. Or else they'd do something about it.

Your article was well thought out. I have one suggestion for the discussion: Race is a created concept devised by some people who want to control other people. Race creates an us-versus-them mentality. In truth there is one race, called the human race. Skin color is better defined as skin tone. All humans have the same skin color. Some have more of it than others.

If people would realize in both intellect and in practice the truth and reality of race as a fallacy beyond the broad scope of a human being, it would level the playing field in sports and many other arenas of life. I feel we have a need to grow up in our thinking about one another.

Gary Eno
New Concord, Ohio

Well said. Of course, if you can get people to agree, we also would have world peace.

Your column concerning black head coaches reminded me of what my barber once said concerning a different issue: "After all is said and done, there'll be more said than done." How true. And how equally disappointing.

You made the comment that racism, either overt or institutional, is behind the poor stats of black to white head coaches. But racism is behind something else as well, and until this something else has been rectified, we don't move forward. That something else is this: Any time and every time a black is hired and then fired, certain individuals and organizations are going to bring unwanted and unwarranted accusations of racism.

So now you can add covert racism to overt and institutional, and we can get closer to at least identifying the problem. I think one of the reasons so many institutions fail to hire or even consider hiring a black coach is the gauntlet of abuse they'll encounter when they try to terminate the relationship.

Joe Booker
Monroeville, Ala.

I thought the Black Coaches Association singling out South Carolina, which got a steal in hiring Steve Spurrier, was ridiculous. And then there is the next letter. . .

Why are there no angry comments against the University of Washington, which also interviewed only one candidate, Tyrone Willingham?

Connie Walsh
Anderson, S.C.

I am currently enrolled at Ohio State University. Although I'm only in my junior year, I took on an assistant coaching job at a local high school. In the entire football conference (MOAC) there is only one other African-American assistant coach.

So my question is, why is there such a small number of African-American coaches on the prep level? And is there a relation to the small number of African-American coaches on the collegiate level?

Tierre Jefferson
Richwood, Ohio

I am an ex-NFL player who played at UCLA, where I was first-team all-Pac-8. When I was in the NFL, I went back to UCLA and coached some spring practices with Dick Vermeil. I went to then-athletic director J.D. Morgan and asked about a coaching position. He said great players do not necessarily make great coaches. And I convinced myself to go into business and forget about coaching.

Wesley Grant
Los Angeles, Calif.


Are you as excited about the Lame Duck (Fiesta) Bowl as I am? Don't you think the fact that both coaches of the teams playing are leaving takes away from original story (Utah as a BCS breaker)?

Matt Maher
Kokomo, Ind.

They are still holding the Fiesta Bowl?