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Social programs lose out

Peter Grier's article on how military priorities kill social programs worldwide is a superb description of why this country is sliding into oblivion [``Worldwide, military priorities leave social programs in the dust,'' Dec. 4]. Wasting the earth's natural resources on military hardware instead of on programs for people only makes this nation like an aging turtle with a hardening outer shell and a decaying inner body. Is any leader courageous enough to try to reverse this trend? Samuel E. Stokes Jr. Alstead, N.H.

Student-athletes The column ``When `student-athletes' are drug-free but hardly studious,'' Nov. 24, does not provide new insights or solutions to the long-standing problem of pressures on college athletes but does much to reinforce old ``anti-jock'' stereotypes while providing at least one clearly inaccurate statistic and others that do not provide the full picture.

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I cannot conceive of an athletic program, college or professional, where the athletes are in meetings and practices ``60 hours a week.'' At the most demanding schools five hours a day and six days a week adds up to 30 hours.

It's also untrue that ``two-thirds of them don't even get degrees for their efforts.'' Quality of education - or drug problems - aside, only 39 percent of all students entering colleges and universities graduate in five years. In the 63 schools of the College Football Association (The Big Leagues), the figure for players is 41.6 percent. At the University of Maryland, 41 percent of the students entering as freshmen from 1977 through 1981 graduated. But so did 42 percent of the football players, and 53 percent of Lefty Dreisell's basketball players. John J. Schulz Fairfax, Va.

Family ties Cheryl Sullivan's excellent article ``Visits from families rare for Soviets in US,'' Nov. 25, underlined the most basic of human problems: the separation of families. VISA (Visits International for Soviets and Americans) should be commended for trying to bridge the chasm of ideologies and politics by bringing families together. If we can do this, then perhaps governments will find it easier to agree on much larger issues. The disaster in Chernobyl underlines how extremely important it is to allow family visitation. Larissa M. Fontana Potomac, Md.

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