It wasn't too many years ago when a fun-filled afternoon of wholesome family entertainment may have included watching a professional football game. The players, for the most part, demonstrated good, law-abiding citizenship on and off the field, tackles were clean and solid, and personal foul penalties were few.
The vast majority of NFL players were good role models for children — and the rest of us. Sadly, that no longer appears to be the case.
Time spent watching yellow flags fly due to personal fouls is troubling, as is the sheer number of seemingly illegal punches, trips, out-of-bounds hits, late hits, eye jabs, face mask jerks, etc., many of which make the television replays but are unmentioned by the referees.
Sometimes, it seems that what thugs used to do on streets and alleys when one gang warred with another has simply relocated to the football field. Street fighting with ugly, muscle-toned inked arms on real or artificial turf is not as exciting or as much fun as was professional football just a few years ago.
And now the NFL adds reports of at least one team paying players a bonus to hurt opposing players enough to force them out of the game. How much longer is our society going to tolerate this mess?
Ray Blush, New Port Richey
FSU grad: Let me be a lawyer | March 8
Bar should keep standards
So Jose Godinez-Samperio wants to be a lawyer. He wants to represent people who need legal help, and he does not know the requirements to become a lawyer. He makes no effort since he turned 18 to meet the requirements to become a lawyer. And he wants to be a lawyer. What is wrong with this picture? Let us hope the Florida Bar maintains its standards of qualifications. Would you want this guy representing you?
Tom Tracy, Safety Harbor
Get legal status
This young man appears to be a decent, hard-working and intelligent individual who came to this country 16 years ago with his parents, illegally. He apparently studied hard, was the valedictorian of his high school class in 2004 and went on to earn a law degree for FSU, no minor accomplishment.
The fact remains that he is here illegally and now the Florida Bar is questioning the legality of him practicing law in this state. Are you telling me that in 16 years he could not find a way to make his status in this country legal as so many others have done over the years?
Charles Poppelreiter, Hudson
Visit to Planned Parenthood was healthy, positive step | March 6, commentary
This was an outstanding and to-the-point article by Natalie Rella. It is refreshing to read a positive and thoughtful column on this subject.
I am a retired registered nurse from Michigan and an avid believer in a woman's right to choose. Seeing the rights of Americans, whether female or male, being quietly or not so quietly eroded over the last several years and especially in the current political climate is very disturbing.
I am taking this article with me to Michigan to share with the Planned Parenthood associations. I will continue to support the rights of all Americans to choose in all situations.
Mary Gay, Allen, Mich.
Good education available
If Florida schools are "struggling" or "failing," it is not the fault of the teachers and principals. Find the lowest-performing FCAT school in the state. Any student can get a decent education there, provided that student comes to school (1) ready to learn and (2) willing to learn. And because a decent education is there for the taking, every year you will find students who graduate from that school and go on to universities.
Ready to learn means coming from a home environment that encourages school success. The parents read to their youngest children and take their kids to the public library regularly to get books. The parents sit down with their children after dinner at the kitchen table and help with math and other homework. They have high expectations that their children will perform well in school, and the kids know it.
Students are willing to learn if they listen to the teacher in class and don't misbehave; if they participate in class discussions; if they do their homework; and if they become minimally social by participating in sports or club activities. Some of that willingness to learn results from a good education environment at home, but some must come from the students themselves.
Instead of bad-mouthing teachers and principals, we would do better to enlighten parents on their role in preparing their children for school and to find ways to show students the value of this free education and what they are throwing away if they are not willing to learn.
Dr. William Murdick, Tallahassee
Fight for religious liberty March 2, commentary
Free to choose
When I was hired as a Hillsborough County teacher, the health insurance specifically excluded orthotics. The same insurance company normally included orthotics, but the School Board had negotiated a better rate by deleting this particular item that is frequently needed by people who stand for long periods.
I was free to pay for my orthotics (which I did).
We are always free to pay for procedures or devices or medications that are not covered by our insurance policy.
Diana Anderson, Brandon
Kids' cavities on the rise
This week NBC News aired a segment on children between the ages of 2 and 5 having a significant increase in cavities. The piece ended with NBC's their resident physician, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, saying that one thing children could do is drink tap water, because it is fortified with fluoride.
Clearly no one apprised her of the bush-league politics in Pinellas County, where the ignorant lead the uninformed and voted to get rid of fluoride in our drinking water.
Harriet P. Sherwood, Clearwater
Simplify the tax system
America is again being told that our economy is improving. Yet we are still saddled with rising gas prices, deflated real estate, out-of-control spending, excessive debt and high joblessness.
No one has been able to come up with a realistic solution to these economic woes. Oddly, the solution has been right in front of us for some time: tax simplification. It will infuse our economy with much-needed revenue by removing the burden of the IRS system.
We've been hearing rumblings of tax reform for many years. But aside from the customary political rhetoric, the application of yet another bandage on the IRS tax code, and a lot of empty promises, nothing ever really gets done.
Many people will say that tax reform is not a priority; creating jobs and fixing the economy are. But by implementing tax reform, these priorities will be addressed.
Joe O'Hara, Ocala
Black students punished more, study says March 7
Look inside the numbers
In an attempt to make headlines and support a cause, this article gives us only half the story. Do black students get suspensions and expulsions more often than whites? The numbers show this. But is this because blacks break the rules more often than whites? The article's own numbers indicate this.
In schools with zero tolerance, every student who breaks these rules is expelled. So if blacks and Hispanics are expelled more, this indicates they are violating the rules more. Now if the article could show that blacks are more likely to be suspended than whites for breaking the same rules, you would have a real story.
If a larger share of blacks are suspended for fighting at school, is it because whites are forgiven? Or is it because blacks get in more fights? I don't know the answer to this, and apparently the writer of this article doesn't think it is important.
Robert Bost, St. Petersburg
Judge: Pay cuts illegal | March 7
Not elected to sue us
Here they go again. The Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott once again will spend millions of tax dollars paid by Florida residents to fight Florida residents in court.
The Legislature, Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi were elected to represent us, not sue us.
Bev Noun, St. Petersburg