Coach regrets decision, as well he should

Your front-page article on Minnesota Thunder's 12-and-under girls soccer club coach who instructed the girls to blow the championship game ("A moment of truth plays out on soccer field," May 20) is very disturbing. There is a reason to segregate the girls into age groups because of their size, maturity and development.

For the state soccer association to let the two age groups compete in the same tournament is defeating the age-group classification and allows two teams from Minnesota Thunder to play in the same tournament. The 12s and 13s should have been mixed into one team. Second, what the coach did was akin to fixing a game, and he should be barred from ever coaching in youth soccer.



What a great opportunity presented itself in the aftermath of the Minnesota Thunder's girls soccer shootout -- the opportunity to talk about things that are more important than competition and winning. Things like the greater good, sacrifice, sticking by one's word and, of course, the value and strength of walking away from accolades without losing self-respect.

What does it mean to be a great person, not just a great soccer player? Perhaps the teammates have a pretty good idea of this already. As columnist Jon Tevlin notes, "The kids, as you might guess, are fine. ...They had a ball."



While I have no doubt Mark Abboud is a wonderful soccer coach, it is nonetheless frustrating to continually see adults make boneheaded decisions that negatively affect kids.

Deliberately telling competitive players to ease up during penalty kicks, thereby ensuring their team's failure, is a travesty. I can't imagine the confusion and humiliation these players felt. Too often, adults make decisions based on an adult perspective, not a child's.

While Abboud's instant regret of his decision is admirable, it shouldn't have been necessary. Clearly, the league faced a dilemma over its 12- and 13-year-old teams facing off and possibly advancing to tournament play. However, wouldn't it have been easier to talk things over and come up with a sensible solution rather than throw one of the teams under the bus?

I'm simply tired of people who make a dumb mistake, then say "I knew right away that I blew it." How about not blowing it in the first place and saving everyone a lot of trouble?



But would average family have suffered?

Now that the dust has settled from the near disaster at the State Capitol, I still have one last unresolved issue: How much would the DFL plan increase the taxes paid by the average Minnesota family?

Although many a complaint has been lodged regarding taxes, I have yet to see anything that puts a ballpark price tag on this plan for an average Minnesota family. If people had an estimate of the dollar increase in their taxes resulting from the DFL plan, they could make an informed judgment. It seems odd that nobody wants to talk in specifics about what is portrayed as the central stumbling block in the process.


From Red Rock to the BWCA

This wilderness was made for you and me

The Associated Press' "Group says Utah's Landscape Arch stretches farther than any other" (May 19) is timely for Minnesotans who care about our nation's spectacular canyon country. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., just cosponsored America's Red Rock Wilderness Act on May 15.

This landmark legislation would forever protect over 9 million acres of big, beautiful and breakable arches and canyonlands in Utah, just like the Boundary Waters are protected wilderness here in Minnesota. Destructive oil and gas drilling is proposed just miles from Landscape Arch.

It's a no-brainer that we save these national treasures for our children and grandchildren to explore and enjoy. Peterson joined fellow Minnesota Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum as Red Rock champions. It's time for Sen. Amy Klobuchar to sign on too.


medical marijuana veto

Real reefer madness

So Gov. Tim Pawlenty will veto medical marijuana and stand with law enforcement in opposition to its use. Of course, the only ones who profit from prohibition and the drug war are the gangsters and the cops. If you want to put the gangs out of business, take the business out of the gangs.

The governor wants to keep the business within his own gang, the cops. But the politicians can't keep marijuana out of the hands of teenagers and the gangs. Pawlenty can't keep reefer out of the hands of respectable middle-class people who smoke it when they think nobody's looking. Perhaps the only ones who Pawlenty can withhold marijuana from are the sick, suffering and dying. He'll make sure they can't get their medicine. That ought to tell you what message he sends.



Bring it on, but proceed with great caution

Minnesota has long been a leader in health care innovation, and our employee insurance coverage ranks near the top in the United States. As a chamber of commerce, our 600 members, almost 40,000 employees, represent large and small businesses. Our members want changes and improvements in the cost and delivery of health care coverage.

We acknowledge the facts: Our health care system is not sustainable, and by 2018, spending on health care will comprise 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. Employers cannot continue to absorb these increased costs.

That said, a wholesale shift to a government-run plan would increase costs to employers, stifle innovation and shift service delivery to a politically based bureaucracy, with the federal government administering the plan, determining benefits premiums, and payments to providers. We do not need to re-create an unsustainable program that resembles Medicare, which is now scheduled for bankruptcy two years sooner than the federal government expected. A change this immense will also derail the need to address the root of the problem, rising costs, and improvement of quality in the health care system.

We strongly urge policymakers to proceed with great caution in considering health care reforms. Proposals envision a system that will allow all individuals to purchase coverage regardless of preexisting conditions, employment status, and provide for low- and moderate-income subsidies. We must consider a common-sense approach that builds on the private insurance market, and allows our system to be free to innovate, respond quickly to patients' needs or implement changes to the system that improve quality and reduce costs. We believe that a system predicated on the strengths of the current system will be a more effective path to health care coverage for everyone.