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'Excellence in America'

November 04, 1987

Was David Broder really serious in his column "Whatever Happened to Excellence in America?" (Op-Ed Page, Oct. 22). Does he really believe that Americans have abandoned any interest in "excellence" and embraced the second-rate merely because they watched the National Football League's "replacement games?"

After all, most of us watch high school and college football (even USC and Stanford football) with a great deal of interest, paying outrageous prices for tickets. No one, not even Broder, suggests that this is a mark of Americans accepting "second-rate standards." Further, why should the willingness, even the demand of Minneapolis fans, that the World Series be played in a domed stadium, which Broder finds unappealing, be something which gives pleasure to "every hack politician in the land?" Perhaps he believes that Minneapolis fans should watch their baseball in a more pleasing venue, such as near where Broder lives, or that the Twins should forgo the fruits of their victorious season.

Why then does Broder spend a column belaboring the obviously silly? Because he is mad. And he is mad that when he and other employees of the Washington Post went on strike several years ago, the readers continued to buy the paper. These readers were not impressed by Broder's signal that "there were serious unresolved issues at their favorite paper." Worse yet, they "found the wire-service stories that replaced our sparkling prose quite adequate for their needs." Like his comments on second-rate football and domed stadiums, Broder cannot understand that others, perhaps most others, have different interests, such as basic news, stock quotes, cartoons and stories about mediocre local teams, and that these interests do not necessarily signal a lack of interest in "excellence."

Reading Broder's article makes me glad that I do not have the daily opportunity to vent my unconsidered and embarrassing spleen on millions of Los Angeles readers. At the same time, while I watch second-rate athletic competition in mediocre municipal and school facilities, I will sympathize with those Washington Post readers who welcomed the opportunity to buy that paper without the "sparkling prose" of Broder.

R. CARLTON SEAVER

Arcadia

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