Letter to the editor | Bissinger off base

November 23, 2013 

Buzz Bissinger’s talk Wednesday at Penn State Berks let me down.

As a former student-athlete, I was disappointed that he played the common stereotype that student-athletes only attend college for glory and shots at the pros.

As a Penn State alumnus, I left with the impression he likes kicking us when we’re down.

Among his arguments, Bissinger declared that Division I sports programs attract students more interested in “diversions” than studying. He cited research claiming students study 10 hours less a week than two generations ago.

In the worst spirit of correlation equals causation, Bissinger concluded that reduced study time was due to greater desire for diversion, caused by national emphasis on college sports.

Are students studying more efficiently thanks to advancements in technology or study skills? How are students today performing? Are study rates affected by the rise in families that send someone to college for the first time in family history?

No such questions were broached. Division I sports is the close-minded culprit.

Bissinger’s most troubling words about Penn State were his faint praise. He declared Penn State is returning to the respectable sports culture it had in Joe Paterno’s heyday.

This continues the ridiculous myth that the entire school, crazed on football worship, covered for Jerry Sandusky. Worse, it dismisses the accomplishments of legions of student-athletes who perennially lead the nation in graduation rates across all demographics.

Let other schools struggle balancing sports and academics. Decades of evidence shows Penn Staters know they can do both.

Henry Chance, Washington, D.C.

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