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Dear state Rep. Bjorn Olson: I lived for more than 60 years with a state flag and seal that I had absolutely no role in choosing ("As the sun rose at the Capitol, so too did the new state flag," May 12). (And BTW, it was a really lousy flag.) I suppose that instead of going with the commission's design, we could put five or 10 options on the ballot for voting-age Minnesotans to choose from (presumably using ranked-choice voting; otherwise no design would receive a clear mandate). But guess what? The children born next year and the year after that and the year after that would be stuck with a flag they played no role in choosing, and in a couple of decades the people who had no choice in the matter would outnumber those of us who did. So how about we just move on to addressing some actual problems?

Anne Hamre, Roseville


The latest article on the Minnesota flag says of the old flag that "In the background, a Native American man on horseback rides westward toward the setting sun." What do you see if you actually look at the flag? You see the front of the Native American on the horse. If riding into the sunset you would see his back. You see the Native American and settler looking at each other. That would be impossible if he was riding into the sunset. You see the front of the horse's head. If riding into the sunset you would see the horse's behind. You see the front feet of the horse on the plowed ground and the rear feet off the plowed ground. The man on horseback is clearly not riding into the sun. He is riding onto the plowed field. Who at the Star Tribune has closely looked at the old flag?

"Vexillologists, who study flag designs, gave Minnesota's old flag an 'F.'" Apparently vexillologists would give at least half of the state flags an "F." Look at them. The new flag is among the most abstract state flags.

I understand why physicists are "experts." Why is a vexillologist an "expert"?

The new seal design has a "red-eyed loon on a Minnesota lake surrounded by pine trees." Gee, actual symbols of Minnesota — on the Minnesota seal.

Bud Brophey, Minneapolis


In 1849, Seth Eastman designed the seal for the state of Minnesota. Many commenters believe the seal as shown on our former state flag to be an important part of Minnesota history. Perhaps a poem written in 1850 by his wife, Mary Eastman, might get you to think a little deeper about the "meaning and history" of the seal. The lengthy poem about the state seal ends with this sentence:

"The rock bluff and prairie land

The white man claims them now,

The symbols of his course are here,

The rifle, axe, and plough."

James Halvorson, Farmington


The magic is draining away

Chuck Chalberg is absolutely right on the subject of the degeneration of college athletics to simple greed ("May I suggest that someone's going to drop the ball?" Opinion Exchange, May 12). I have long thought that the poisoning of athletics, from the pee-wees to college, runs deep. It starts with parents putting their kids into organized "instructional" leagues (mea culpa) to sending their kids to top athletic high schools in pursuit of scholarships to college "one and done" players in pursuit of the riches of pro sports — all in the name of the almighty dollar. Both colleges and pro teams are guilty of distributing these "drugs" in their own pursuit of financial benefit. So much for the noble lifelong lessons of sportsmanship and teamwork.

Well, at least the "student athletes" are getting in on the action now. That's fortunate since less than 2% of college jocks will ever make it to the pros. They will have fond memories, however, of playing for four different college teams with ever-increasing name, image and likeness money. God bless America.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis


Chalberg's commentary resonated with me. I am a sports fan and former college athlete from an era long ago and far away. The student athlete is alive and well with most sports other than football and basketball. Typically, the "off brand," non-revenue-producing sports don't offer full scholarships and certainly won't offer much more than pocket change in NIL money. Athletes in those sports need to focus on an education because there is no hope of a lucrative professional sports career ahead for them. I enjoy those sports knowing that I am watching authentic student athletes.

Back in the day I played football at an Ivy League university. No scholarships were given. We were given no leniency in academic requirements. We spent just as much time practicing, going to meetings and playing games during the season as any player in the Big Ten. And lest you think it was second-class, our team produced the No. 1 draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys, who became the Rookie of the Year in the NFL. And, at one point late in the season, we were ranked 16th in the country. The average attendance at our games was 45,000 to 50,000 and our stadium was larger than the stadiums at Penn State, Minnesota and most of the "major" scholarship schools. The point is that it is possible to have successful, entertaining football and basketball without the ingestion of "big money" and all the compromises it brings to the notion of amateur athletics.

Sports Illustrated has identified St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., as one of the 10 best venues for watching a college football game. If you haven't been there on a fall Saturday, you should go. It oozes everything that is attractive about college football played by good athletes who do it for the love of the sport.

It seems inevitable that major college football and basketball will separate themselves from most other college sporting events and that a few dozen of the biggest, most lucrative programs will drift away from the less lucrative programs. Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Stanford and dozens of programs will not be able to keep up with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama, Georgia and the other money factories. Why not form conferences that stop the insane effort to keep up, when that simply cannot be done? Revenue may go down, but so will the cost of programs. The entertainment value can still be high.

Why can't Minnesota fill its stadium on a nice Saturday afternoon even after it secedes from the insane money race that is changing major college football?

Fred Morris, Minneapolis


Strengthen liability laws and wait

There is no foolproof way to protect data or to prevent firearms from being stolen and misused. All the standard approaches to security have failure points, and human beings are the omnipresent failure points in every equation. The most effective approach to security is liability. If individuals, businesses, websites, public agencies and nonprofits are liable for the misuse of information and tools and other devices in their care, they will work hard to prevent their inappropriate access and use. And they will have the added expense of insuring against failure if and when it happens. It isn't up to government to tell them how to prevent theft and/or misuse. It's up to government to say prevention is a primary responsibility and failure to prevent makes the owner or possessor responsible for whatever damage is caused by misappropriation and misuse.

That would mean that if someone stole your firearm from your car and then used that firearm to commit a felony, the victim and/or the victim's estate would be able to sue for damages. If someone hacks a database and gains access to sufficient information to commit identity theft, victims could sue the company that was hacked for damages. If the liability is clear, proper protection will become standard operating procedure.

Robert Veitch, Richfield