Newsday ran a story on a study by the Radiological Society of North America about changes in the brains of young people who sustain heavy hits in football, even though they don't receive concussions ["One H.S. season can change brain," Sports, Dec. 2]. This was correlated with another study that showed that the more the brain changed over a single season, the worse athletes performed on learning and memory tests.
One gets the impression football limits all participants' brain capacity and that parents allowing a child to participate are negligent, if not irresponsible. However, let's look at frequent concussions, from youth to professional football, from a different perspective.
Many TV football analysts -- for example, Troy Aikman, Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason -- sustained traumatic brain injuries during their football careers. Yet one would not question their cognitive or intellectual capacities.
Perhaps Newsday should report on studies that are trying to identify why some football players seem to experience serious long-term effects, but others do not. It could be the presence of a unique enzyme or an inflammatory mediator in the brain released during a traumatic brain injury that's responsible.
Clearly there is a difference that cannot be explained simply by the number or severity of traumatic brain injuries.
Dr. Karl Friedman, Syosset
Editor's note: The writer is a supervising physician for Nassau County public high school football championships and state lacrosse championships.
Union-busting is the real evil
The letter "Campaign donations skew public policy" [Dec. 1] was a screed against public workers and their unions, and it's but one more rant that simplistically targets workers and their unions as the source of society's ills.
Rather than selfishly indulge his prejudices and bore readers with a tedious polemic, the writer should invest his hyperbolic "facts" with simple truth. He should take time to expose the myth perpetrated upon the real U.S. producer class: the working class.
This myth gives union-busting law firms near-hero status, and it begs objective inquiry. Those guardians of the public trust freely feed at the public trough and enrich themselves. They are not community-spirited management consultants; they're civil society's version of the unholy alliance forged by the military-industrial fraternity that menaces our economic and societal well-being.
Ron King, Commack
Editor's note: The writer is Long Island region director for the Civil Service Employees Association.
Prison sentence seems excessive
The prison sentence of 17 years given a man for killing his mother is excessive in the extreme ["Prison for strangling," News, Dec. 2].
No caregiver or anyone involved in treating the elderly, especially people with dementia, would consider this sentence to be appropriate. Of course, no one should commit homicide, but the sentence should have been mitigated by the circumstances of his elderly mother.
At a time when states are looking to reduce the expense of a large prison population, the release of this man would not seem to pose a threat to society.
Lawrence Donohue, West Islip
Debt collectors have standards, too
The article on Williams, Scott & Associates unfortunately paints a stereotypical portrait of the debt-buying industry ["Feds charge Ga. debt collector in fraud," News, Nov. 19]. This industry is a critical link in the nation's credit-based economy, and the vast majority of companies involved in debt collection take this responsibility seriously.
As the debt-buying industry's trade association, DBA International created the national Debt Buyer Certification Program as a uniform industry standard designed to exceed state and federal requirements. Our standards stress responsible consumer protection, increased transparency and accountability.
Neither Williams, Scott nor its employees were certified by DBA. The allegations of fraud against Williams, Scott highlight how abusive and illegal practices by any one company can shed a negative light on an entire industry.
Jan Stieger, Sacramento, California
Editor's note: The writer is executive director of DBA International.