To the Editor:

The column (“Olympics are just another power play by Uncle Sam,” 2/15) reveals Gregory Yolen’s naive and unsubstantiated world views.

To corroborate his assertion that sportsmanship is “bull,” Yolen points to the extensive coverage of American victories. The last time I checked, we actually live in America, watch American TV, and as a viewing public have a greater interest in American teams. It’s like living in New York and complaining that there are too many Yankee games televised. Yolen mistakes simple television programming strategy for a jingoistic American rant.

Yolen raises a decent point with his criticism of the addition of snowboarding as an Olympic sport. Following the abysmal ratings for the 2000 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee took steps to re-energize the games and get more viewers interested. The burnouts described in Yolen’s article are exactly the audience that the IOC has succeeded in attracting with snowboarding’s addition. If Yolen had criticized the overcommercialization of the games, then I would have heartily agreed with him.

But instead, he opted for the sensationalistic American conspiracy theory as causation for an expansion of the Games.

If the Olympics have lost their meaning it is not because of media coverage, as Yolen suggests. Recent scandals, namely Russia’s figure skating gold, show us that the Olympics are not perfect. But that does not detract from the purity of athletic competition that still abounds in other events.

Fans who fail to see the power of the Olympics and who believe that a gold medalist has wasted his life are the real threat to the Games’ future.

Frank Walsh ’04

February 17, 2002