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Athletics Gloom Seen as Non-Issue

May 14, 1987

My heart goes out to the disappointed 49er sports boosters prominently featured in the Southeast/Long Beach section April 19, but I really believe you're dealing with a non-issue.

I graduated from Cal State Long Beach in the 1960s, but my perception of the sports situation there is considerably different from the boosters quoted in the story. I see no reason to assume that any amount of fund-raising is going to bring about another Southern California sports powerhouse--or even a school as successful as Fresno State.

Why? Let me suggest two conditions which I believe transcend questions of quality of fund-raising efforts of the caliber of the coaching staff:

1. Policy of the California State University and Colleges system has always been to discourage any sort of on-campus or near-campus "college community" development such as one sees at Westwood around UCLA. The CSU administration, instead, encourages commuters who have little interest in staying around and/or buying football tickets. That huge potential "customer base" boosters talk about has never thought of itself as a unit or a community--and will not, as long as the CSU administration operates in the manner it does. You've got to have a college community before you can have school spirit.

2. There is too much competition in this area for the football fan's ticket dollar. Professional sports and other entertainment are available in multiple doses with a short ride--a contrast to the situation in Fresno.

Even though CSULB has more than 30,000 students enrolled, about 90% of them are commuters--a percentage which has remained steady since the '60s. And, remember, after 38 years of operation, CSULB still has not seen the need for a football stadium of its own.

Before there can be any kind of athletic renaissance at Cal State Long Beach, there would have to be a fundamental change in the way the system is operated. Meanwhile, wouldn't it be great if the boosters changed their focus from football circuses (with their highly paid performers) to sports and activities which would benefit a greater cross section of the CSULB student body?

--JOSEPH A. STRAPAC

Huntington Beach

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