The Friday Sports section demonstrates that the University of Minnesota and the Big Ten not only lack character but a moral compass. These institutions are supposedly dedicated to preparing our youth to meet the challenges of the future. But it is increasingly evident that generating income, and especially sports-generated dollars, is the primary goal. Of course resources are needed to run a major university, but it seems that the state's flagship is now well on the way to prostituting students if that is what it takes to keep the dollars flowing and the football program enriched.

The article "Buckeyes rule Big Ten" describes how the Big Ten has embarrassed itself by ignoring public health and flip-flopping its position on football. The rules adopted for the season resulted, predictably, in spreading COVID and canceled games with no credible way to determine a conference winner. Unable to face the loss of revenue if no Big Ten team competed for the fanciful COVID-year championship, the conference changed the rules again to allow Ohio State to compete. Heaven forbid that we teach our youth that there may be other priorities besides sports.

The article on Page C3, "U regents consider alcohol sponsorships," further proves that morals, ethics and character have difficulty finding a place at the top of the U. Alcohol is by far the most dangerous and abused drug in America. More people are sickened and die, more families are ruined, and more auto accidents are caused by alcohol than all other drugs.

According to the article, the U leadership is gung-ho on promoting alcohol to generate revenue, especially for sports. The comical justifications offered include: all the other colleges are doing it; some alumni in the alcohol business are hiring our grads; and, of course, big-time alcohol pushers are willing to pay us to hawk their goods. If those are the lessons being taught, we would be better off with universities primarily dedicated to education rather than revenue sports — like the rest of the world.

Tom Salkowski, Buffalo
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As the University of Minnesota Regents consider whether to allow alcoholic licensing and sponsorship deals on-campus, is it possible to develop other licensing opportunities that would generate fees for those individual sports programs (men's gymnastics, tennis, indoor track and field) slated to be discontinued? Perhaps a Target bull's-eye opposite the Nike swoosh that is visible on so many college athletes' uniforms (for example, on Dec. 11, in the Sports section on Pages 1, 2 and 3). These nonalcoholic licensing deals might be restricted to sports programs that do not have television contracts. As for the alcoholic licensing ideas, it is reassuring to know Goldy Gopher will not show up soon on beer cans. Not yet.

Paul Hager, Northfield, Minn.
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U President Joan Gabel: I'll admit I've always had a problem with the fact that our institutions of higher learning depended upon football/sports to help finance schools. With that said, I can't believe advertising alcohol sales at the school and football is the only way to help with pandemic finance issues. I'm thinking a few students at the Carlson School of Management might have some advertising ideas.

Joyce Suek, Minneapolis


Regarding vaccines, missed chances

I have suffered from severe allergic reactions for most of my life. I carry an EpiPen. I was deeply disappointed by Dr. Abinash Virk's dismissive comments in "Attention turns to COVID vaccine safety" (front page, Dec. 10) that "there is more data to support safety than the two anecdotes of allergic reaction." Virk's characterization of the two verified incidents of allergic reactions as "anecdotes" is trivializing language that downplays the seriousness of severe allergic reactions as a health issue faced by many people. Virk's words also present a false dichotomy between vaccine safety and reports of allergic reaction. In fact, most medications, including vaccines, have allergic reaction listed as a potential side-effect and come with warnings not to take the medication if you are allergic to it. Yet these drugs remain on the market, because they are safe and effective for those who can take them.

I understand that Dr. Virk was seeking to allay fears about the Pfizer vaccine's safety for general use. A better message would have been one that acknowledges that there will always be some people who cannot receive a vaccine because of contraindications. This is just one of the many reasons that everyone who can safely be vaccinated should be.

D. Morgan MacBain, St. Paul
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The likely impending approval of two COVID-19 vaccines is being touted as a momentous achievement. It's not. The fact that there were no shortcuts made on safety even with the time frame we are seeing now demonstrates that said time frame should be the upper limit for the development of vaccines in a normal, functional society, not the minimum for development amid a worldwide emergency that leaves society effectively dysfunctional. In the latter circumstance, far more drastic measures are necessary.

We had 30,000 volunteers for potential human challenge trials months ago. It is staggering to think of how many lives we could have saved if this had been done. We could have known the vaccines worked months ago. And further, nations needed to have the courage to tap the money and manpower resources to allow the manufacturers to mass produce back in March the necessary doses of every vaccine as if they were approved from the first day the vaccines went into trials. They still would not be distributed until the determination of safety and efficacy was made, and thus this move would have carried the risk of all the vaccines being produced in vain if they didn't end up working. But that's one role governments must have — to provide full compensation in the event of this worst-case scenario.

We found $2.2 trillion last spring for a relief package. There is no excuse for not finding the money to cover a project like this. We had nine months! We could have had enough doses for everyone in the country right now had we done this! The fact that we don't and now will be enduring a monthslong rollout process is utterly unacceptable. Society doesn't have time for these processes to be done sequentially. They needed to be done simultaneously, and the failure to do so qualifies as one of the biggest failures of imagination in modern history.

Alexander Adams-Leytes, Minneapolis


Keep a watchful eye on that group

"Secret vote permits white sect" (front page, Dec. 10): Unbelievable! I have many questions. How can this happen in the U.S.? Why an anonymous vote? Who advised the Murdock City Council that "rejecting the Asatru Folk Assembly's request could violate its religious rights"? Since when is hate a religious right? Mayor Craig Kavanagh said he wanted people to know that racism is condemned in all forms. That is not what this vote is demonstrating.

A comment attributed to this pro-white group says "activities and behaviors destructive of the white family are to be discouraged." What does that even mean? What are the activities or behaviors that they feel are destructive to the white family? And how will these supposed actions and behaviors be discouraged? I hope that the City Council set strict guidelines about the activities and behaviors that will not be acceptable from this group in this Minnesota city.

Vicki Pond, St. Louis Park

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