Your Turn

Readers write, react and respond. (November/December 2018)

Buddy Ball
I have been torn in recent years between my love of watching football and my medical judgment that the sport is bad for its participants. Buddy Teevens’ solution is ingenious, and both his—and Dartmouth’s—decision to implement it is courageous [“Game Changer,” September/October]. I am proud of Dartmouth for appropriately dealing with the problems of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Kevin G. Ryan ’56, DMS’57
Santa Barbara, California


The story about football coach Buddy Teevens ’79 and his innovative and, it seems, lone wolf approach to football—his “Dartmouth Way”—evokes “The Dartmouth Plan.”

More than 45 years after being implemented as a way to admit more students without immediately adding dorms, dining halls, or athletic facilities, we see how far-reaching and effective it was. It opened—better late than never—the doors of a Dartmouth education and experience to women. The D-Plan also let multitudes of students choose their route through four years: an internship in Chicago while peers took classes, six months of Olympic training that didn’t delay on-time graduation, or the flexibility to extend language abroad programs.

Like Teevens’ football foresight, the    D-Plan has not yet caught on at other colleges. It is their loss, while Dartmouth thrives. Let’s remember that football once centered on running the ball because the forward pass had too many negatives associated with it. Today, pass-happy games attract millions of fans. We can only hope that someday soon another Dartmouth innovation will positively impact lives for the better.

Steve Bell ’76
Buffalo, New York


As a former football fan, I found the statement that Dartmouth football players will become doctors, bankers, and engineers and, therefore, will “need their brains” tone deaf. Did Mike Webster, Dave Duerson, and Junior Seau not need their brains? All played pro football, and all three men suffered from CTE. As a psychiatrist, I’d suggest they needed their brains to function just as much as I need mine.

It is this sort of hypocrisy and, dare I say, elitism on DAM’s part, that supports my decision to continue my boycott of the sport.

Erik Roskes ’86


The article claims Teevens was the first to eliminate tackling in football practice. I played on Earl Hamilton’s freshman team at Dartmouth in 1961. I later transferred to St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. Its football coach, John Gagliardi, allowed no tackling in practice.   

Jon Fabri ’65
Charleston, South Carolina


Two tremendously inspirational articles in the new issue. What a treat! My wife and love of 66 years passed away last year, so I was particularly sensitive to the devotion shown by the four climbing buddies who tackled Mount Xanadu as a memorial tribute to their departed friend Chris Vale ’18 [“Mission to Xanadu,” September/October]. What a feat in acknowledgement of their loss.

And then the story of what Buddy Teevens has done for Dartmouth football and young athletes around the country. As one who was brought up with head-butting football and lost his best friend to football-related dementia, I am tremendously impressed with Buddy’s ability to transform our national sport. Go Big Green!

Jack Woods ’51, Th’52, Tu’52
Basking Ridge, New Jersey


Starry Eyed
I was probably the first Dartmouth student to encounter Vincent Starzinger’s magnetic brilliance [“The Zinger,” September/October]. This occurred in the spring of 1960, before he started teaching in the fall. He had come to Hanover to participate in my senior fellowship’s so-called “summit conference.” On this occasion I presented the fruits of my constitutional law project concerning the judicial philosophies of Justices Frankfurter and Black to a small group of invited faculty. All I remember of this event is my distinct impression that Starzinger was charming and keenly intelligent.

I graduated and went on to Harvard Law School, where Starzinger also earned his law degree. During my third year there, I drove to Hanover for a visit. I connected with Starzinger, and we found ourselves at the Hanover Inn bar. I remember nothing about our conversation, and our paths never crossed again, but my sense of his delightful company and analytic acuity remains with me, and the accuracy of this perception has been confirmed by the recollections of his many students who came after me.

Stephen Sayre Singer ’60
New York City


True Believer
Thank you for the excellent September/October issue. It might have been titled “How Sports Enhance a Dartmouth Education.” Dartmouth football decides its priority is player safety and shows the rest of the sport a better way forward. Jeremy Howick ’92 [“Buddha on the Water”] explains that losing crew races is educational and winning crew races can depend upon the phrase “Believe in yourself and pull harder.”

My own experience was the reverse of Jeremy’s—we won the Eastern Sprints my freshman year in 1973 and not so many races for the next three years. I learned as much at the boathouse and on the river as I did in the classroom. Obviously, the nature of the education was different in each setting, but the lessons I learned have lasted me a lifetime.

Thank you, Dartmouth, for your wisdom and your “both/and” approach to education.

Thad Bennett ’76
Conway, Massachusetts


Truth Seeker
As much as I enjoyed the interview with David Shribman ’76 [“Continuing Ed,” September/October] and respect his accomplishments, in his attack on fake news he says he has “never worked for a paper that has knowingly printed a syllable it knew to be wrong.” The real standard should be that the paper printed only syllables it knew were true.

Larry Belluzzo ’72
Millsboro, Delaware


The cover [“The Crusader,” July/August] features Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand ’88 with the quote, “You must stand up when evil is spreading.” Labeling an opposing political opinion or party as “evil” is getting close to a call to man the barricades. It’s old-time religious in its call to action. It does not appeal to the intellect but to a god who punishes evil through his agents here on Earth. If we cover our lack of common civility by labeling our opponents as evil enemies, we can justify the inevitable violence that will result from the crusaders trying to destroy the evildoers.

Bud Konheim ’57
Weston, Connecticut


Sen. Gillibrand said the Catholic Church is wrong to oppose abortion because “Our Constitution demands separation of church and state, and the church is meant to be an individual faith. . . .Anytime you’re trying to impose your religious belief on somebody else, it’s unconstitutional and morally wrong.” By advocating for the civil rights of babies to be born, Catholics are not trying to impose “religious beliefs” on anyone. Unborn babies are a defenseless minority. They want to live. The church teaches abortion is wrong because it kills innocent human life. As Mother Theresa said, “ ’Tis poverty that a child must die so that you can live as you wish.”

John Case ’65


Sen. Gillibrand, the sole vote against former Gen. Mattis for secretary of defense, said “He did not have the relevant experience. President Trump might have thought a general is a good secretary of defense. We decided in the Constitution that it was not a good idea.”

There is nothing in the Constitution on the subject. The National Security Act of 1947 requires an officer be seven years out of uniform before assuming the post. A congressional waiver was granted to Mattis and to five-star general George C. Marshall, who was both secretary of state and defense under Truman. Numerous former military men became secretary of war, secretary of the Navy, or president. Gillibrand, a lawyer, should know better.

Chris Langdon ’73
Winter Park, Florida


Your article about Jerry Zaks ’67 [“The King of Broadway,” July/August] was particularly moving because I attended the same production of Wonderful Town he did, with the woman I married the following year. The performance of the song “A Quiet Girl” from the show moved her to tears. We were married for 35 years before she died in 2001 at the age of 58.

Charles Stephany ’63
Redmond, Oregon


A Multitude of Voices
With all due respect, I take issue with the suggestion of writer Hemant Joshi ’04 [“Your Turn,” September/October] that the voices of our more senior grads be unceremoniously relegated to the wilderness. While he is entitled to his opinion, I submit that his picture of atavistic male grads smoking cigars and reading The New Yorker in leather chairs is, at best, a cartoonish exaggeration. Few, if any, senior alumni hold fast to the Indian symbol, a single-gender college, or cave-age histrionics.

To the contrary, today’s “old alums” have loyally supported the school, financially and otherwise, for decades. My class of 1967 alone has donated more than $9 million to the College over the years, so that, along with other endeavors, we can have an alumni magazine where we can voice our opinions.

Since its seminal focus on the education of one endangered minority in 1769, Dartmouth has never sought to exclude its alumni, young or old, but to include them.

Philip K. Curtis ’67


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