Letters for Jan. 2

Posted Jan. 01, 2009, at 8:29 p.m.

Ritchie’s criticisms of Brown are overstated

I have to take issue with some of Kevin Ritchie’s observations (BDN, Dec. 23) regarding BDN sports columnist Ron Brown. As Academic Dean at Lee Academy, Mr. Ritchie is undoubtedly far more qualified than I am to discuss the topic of student-athletes, but his criticisms of Coach Brown’s published opinions on this topic seem a bit overstated.

Brown warns against the impact of transfers in tipping the balance of power in Maine high school athletics, an idea with which Ritchie strongly disagrees. I’d like to suggest that the net effect of “imported” student-athletes who transfer, particularly into small schools in Maine, is not utterly inconsequential.

For an example of this, one need look no further than the demonstrable impact of two or three very good basketball players which were added to Lee’s varsity boys basketball team last year. While this team did not win Class C, the addition of these players transformed what was a competitive, likely playoff-bound team into a top-three team and a legit championship contender.

Admittedly, new players don’t always have this kind of impact on a sports program. I’ve also seen another small school in Maine with a front-line, composed entirely of foreign exchange students, which ranged from 6-foot-4 to 6-6. However, these student-athletes were only slightly more proficient at the game of basketball than I am and while things couldn’t have gone better for these kids in the classroom, the basketball court was another matter entirely.

In fairness to Mr. Ritchie, I must completely agree with his assessment that the recent championships won by Lee Academy in both the boys and girls programs had little, if anything to do with imported players. I have two sons who competed against Lee Academy in three high school sports from 1998 through 2005 and we know all too well that this school has a terrific athletic program with plenty of homegrown talent, particularly in baseball.

However, Ritchie’s dismissal of Brown’s concerns and sportswriting style ignores the fact that Ron Brown has been observing the Maine high school sports scene for decades as a coach and a writer. I must admit — in the interest of full disclosure — that I once received from Coach Brown, a complementary signed copy of “Simply the Best — The Cindy Blodgett Story,” so I suppose my objectivity has been tainted here. Incidentally, it’s a great book. I’d recommend that Mr. Ritchie pick up a copy and read it sometime.

David D. Wilson

Levant

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