Bring back ‘good sports’ to sports • Brooklyn Paper

Bring back ‘good sports’ to sports

To the editor,

Ed Greenspan, you and I have finally found something we both agree upon — the mess that professional baseball and other once-respected sports have become. It seems to me that, as the salaries of professional athletes keep going up, their morals keep going down and violence both on and off the field keeps increasing.

You and I, Mr. Greenspan, grew up in an era when professional athletes were admired for their honesty and decency as well as their skills. As a Brooklyn Dodger fan, I had players I could look up to, especially Jackie Robinson, who had the courage to take whatever risks were necessary to break the color barrier in professional baseball, and Gil Hodges, who was known and admired as much for being a gentleman as a skilled first baseman and, later, a beloved manager of the new Mets. If these gentlemen were still with us, they would be horrified by what is happening in baseball today.

I sometimes wonder whatever happened to team loyalty. I knew the names of almost every player on the Dodgers and the Yankees because the same players stuck with their teams year after year, often until they retired. Now, since salaries have reached the millions, most athletes will go from team to team, playing for whatever team gives them the best contract and the highest salaries.

The Brooklyn Dodgers didn’t take performance-enhancing drugs. They learned their skills through years of practice and hard work. Today’s athletes take steroids and other drugs, sometimes risking their lives, to improve their performances. Back in the days of the Brooklyn Dodgers, I never heard of professional athletes arrested for drunken driving, wife-beating or shooting someone they disagreed with. The old-time athletes tried to set good examples for children and young people. Today’s children do not have athletes they can admire. They have coaches who feed them steroids and push them through endless practices until some of them collapse and even die on the field.

I think that both professional and children’s sports need to be overhauled and completely changed. Nobody should be forced to take drugs nor be pushed beyond the level of his or her physical capacity. Professional athletes should be encouraged to be wholesome examples to children and future athletes, and, if they are not, they should be dropped from their sports. Performance-enhancing drugs and violence should be banned from all sports. Perhaps then children could learn respect, honesty and decency from the athletes who are left, and our beloved former athletes like Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges could rest in peace.

Elaine Kirsch


Labor pains

To the editor:

I would like to shed some light on the “Call it mess transit” op-letter by Jerry Sattler.

Mr. Sattler, the cost of labor is the most expensive item on any project’s agenda and union labor is much more expensive than non-union labor. The reason that our subway system is in shambles is that budgeting cost of maintenance and upgrades are held to a minimum since union work is quite costly and politicians do not feel comfortable showing an extraordinarily high expenditure to maintain things. It is more palatable to the public, especially in liberal cities, if money was budgeted to support illegals or Americans who refuse to work.

The reason that metro systems in other countries are updated regularly is that unions are not strong. Governments will fire unions and use non-union workers if there are major problems — much the way President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers in 1981.

When my former engineering and manufacturing company had to work with unions, labor cost was estimated at between two to three times that of non-union labor. Additionally, American union contracts have requirements that force corporations and governments to use more workers than are necessary.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many workers on construction sites or watching one worker spray rat poison on grass? Because each worker designation requires supervision.

Here’s a simple example from my engineering days: For every four carpenters on site, there must be one supervisor. If five carpenters are needed, another supervisor is required. At that time, riggers came in sets of three workers and billed a minimum of three hours, even though only two riggers were needed for two hours of work. Let me give you one more example: On streets where traffic is diverted due to construction, at times there are humans waving flags instead of directional signs with arrows. There are times where humans are needed, but many times directional signs with arrows will do.

You can now understand why some U.S. corporations are relocating their manufacturing facilities out of the country: Excessive cost of labor hampers profitability. At the turn of the century, efficiency experts estimated that for the MTA to become financially healthy, it would need to charge about $7.50 per ride.

By no stretch of the imagination am I advocating the end of unions. Unions are very important since they protect the workers and stop management abuse. Almost 100 years ago the corporate motto regarding workers was, “If you don’t come in on Sunday, don’t come in on Monday,” insinuating that management fired workers who would not work seven days per week. Gladly, those days are gone, but unions have tilted the scale. We need to right the scale so that neither party takes advantage of the other.

Elio Valenti

Brooklyn, NY

The route causes

To the editor,

I have a few questions for Larry Penner. (Discussing buses Sept 1). Bus bunching has been the chief bus rider complaint for at least 60 years. Buses even bunch three at a time at 9 pm when there is little traffic. Penner highlights the capital monies being spent to upgrade the system and claims service quality and frequency depends on secure revenue streams. While partially true, this does not tell the entire story.

BusTrek which is now in effect enables all dispatchers to view all buses on the lines they are managing showing how many minutes early or late each bus is. What it doesn’t show is how crowded the buses are, and the demand at bus stops. (That is also crucially-needed information.) So why is bunching as bad as ever? How will new radio systems and command centers reduce bunching? It seems like every 10 or 15 years we hear about new radio systems being bought and this certainly is not the first upgrade to the command center. Yet the MTA continues to blame traffic which they have no control over as the sole source of bus bunching. They claim that exclusive bus lanes reduce bunching when in fact it does not.

Penner also states that boarding of buses in the front and back has other issues to contend with. So why is the city so gung ho on Select Bus Service? He blames departing from front and rear doors for causing delays. When the bus is jam-packed and one is in the front of the bus, departing from the rear is not possible. Penner asks why we don’t invest in bus holding lights at major bus subway terminals. Good question. I first learned about that technology in 1972. Yet we still do not have any.

Sixty years ago, each route had between two and six street street dispatchers. Today there are only dispatchers at major terminals where at least two routes terminate. We need more staff in charge of ensuring the 300 bus routes are running on time, better training of dispatchers, a willingness to listen to suggestions from the public, and less arrogance from those in charge of planning. Merely increasing revenue which may not even go to where it is most needed will not improve quality and frequency of service significantly.

Allan Rosen

Sheepshead Bay

Not so shore

To the editor,

After last week’s massive Hurricane Harvey in Houston I hope the city will take another look about building high rise condos anywhere near the shoreline.

If another massive storm should hit us in Southern Brooklyn, knowing that often our public transportation has breakdowns and delays, where and how we could we evacuate in time.

Since riders often complain about overcrowded trains, how are pet owners with dogs and cats in carry cages supposed to carry these animals? I myself have two adult cats not very easy to carry, so what am I supposed to do?

I do remember a few years ago when the buses were free; it was a living nightmare hoping to get on a bus that was already crowded.

Does anyone think things will go smoothly in case of evacuation? I don’t think so. The first thing will be panic, pushing, and shoving to relocate to a safer location. Will there enough police to make sure everything goes well? I really hope so.

Jerry Sattler

Brighton Beach

More from Around New York