YOUTH HOCKEY

Positive opportunities for all levels of interest

As the mother and grandmother of several hockey players at various levels of skill, I can appreciate Dale Vaillancourt’s frustration (“The State of Hockey is … excessive,” Feb. 25) with his experience with the youth hockey system. I have many criticisms of my own, mostly from observations of overzealous parents. But on the whole, parents volunteer countless hours to enable kids to enjoy the game they love. Mr. V. did a nice job of explaining the level of commitment and time required to his son, but he missed a teaching moment when his son maintained that “most of those hockey guys are jerks.” His son could have learned more than disdain and arrogance in the face of his disappointment. Mr. V. claims to be “prima-donna-free” — I don’t think so.

BEVERLY REID, Bloomington

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I urge everyone who loves hockey but is appalled by the current “state of hockey” to seek out recreational hockey leagues. It’s very affordable; the time commitment is reasonable, and ice time is not a concern, because all games and practices are outdoors. It’s a way for kids to be exposed to hockey the way I was, as a fun winter activity, not as a way of life. If your local Park and Rec does not have a program, I am sure a neighboring community would eagerly include you.

GREG SCHAEFER, Golden Valley

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Many cities offer Park and Rec hockey programs that are open to neighboring communities. There are private, organized, “pickup” hockey leagues in which parents sign up kids on a weekly basis. There is a league for high school players who play games on Sunday afternoons. Minnesota Hockey offers a winter recreational league for kids under 16. In addition, most competitive hockey associations offer spring and summer programs as well as “Try Hockey for Free” events well-suited for kids to give hockey a whirl.

The author is correct in stating that the commitment level for competitive youth hockey and competitive sports in general is not well-suited for every child and every family. But let’s research the options before we demonize our state sport.

PAUL LARSON, Minneapolis

 

NFL AND TAXES

Letter lost me with its parting cheap shot

Although I agree we should end the NFL league office’s tax-exempt status (“Letter of the Day,” Feb. 24), I do not agree with the letter writer’s out-of-context statement: “And let’s not forget what outstanding citizens the members of these teams are. Check your local police blotters this past decade.”

First, what does this have to do with the NFL’s tax-exempt status? Second, according to FBI statistics, the incidence of NFL players getting arrested is about half that of the general public.

Once an NFL player is ticketed or arrested, it is front-page news, but when these players spend their days off doing charitable work, we rarely her about these good deeds.

BILL OJILE, Lino Lakes

 

PAY EQUITY

Look, the way things are isn’t reasonable

An article from the Economist in the Feb. 24 Business Forum (“The art of taxation: Plucking the goose”) urges us not to consider increasing taxes on big businesses because “they will fly away.”

This put me in mind of McDonald’s fast-food joints vehemently opposing a minimum-wage increase because it would be catastrophic for business. However, in one recent year the company managed to triple executive pay packages: Donald Thompson’s total compensation went from $4.1 million to $13.8 million as CEO, and the pay of his predecessor, whom he replaced in the middle of that year, went from $8.8 million to $27.7 million.

Many of us are beyond sick and tired of this hypocrisy. Does the CEO really put in a thousand times as many hours as the counter worker making $7.25? Does he work a thousand times as hard? One must question the overwhelming greed that has gone from something shameful to something to be boasted about.

STEVE HOFFMANN, Anoka

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The University of Minnesota nearly doubles the salary of a football coach — to $2.1 million a year.

What does this really say about our priorities? We’ve heard enough whining and complaining about the cost of higher education. But we can somehow find enough money to make our football coach the highest-paid public employee in the state.

Really? For shame.

LANI JACOBSEN, Eagan

 

STATE SURPLUS

Why didn’t poll mention reserve fund?

The Minnesota Poll results related to how the Legislature should deal with a potential state budget surplus (Dec. 23) were deeply flawed.

Respondents were essentially given just two choices: Spend it or send it (back to the taxpayers). Not surprisingly, given only those options, a majority prefer it returned to the taxpayer.

Several weeks ago, the Star Tribune Editorial Board called for a rational third approach that the “rainy day fund” be expanded and funded with some or much of the surplus. That makes a lot of sense, and I believe a considerable number of sensible Minnesotans would agree.

However, by not giving respondents that option, the data — and what the media construes from it — are very misleading.

TOM BAUMANN, Isanti, Minn.