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Athletes Shouldn't Get Preferential Treatment

March 07, 1992

The article about the "fettered Olympic hopeful" appearing in your Feb. 21 San Diego issue is either misleading or deliberately inflammatory. Steffen Peters, the hopeful athlete, is not a victim of any "red tape" or the excessive complexity that the use of that term implies. In fact, Mr. Peters is merely subject to the identical immigration laws that the countless non-athlete, non-Olympic hopeful, prospective citizens must observe, but unlike Mr. Peters, the vast majority must abide by the law without law-circumventing assistance from congressional fans of the dressage.

I have no quarrel with either Mr. Peters' ambitions or his eagerness to compete, and I feel true distress about the age of his faithful mount. My complaint is with the characterization of this particular dilemma as being due to red tape. Red tape is, in the lexicon of most reputable journalists, an inference of excessive complexity resulting in delay or inaction. An objective reading of your article reveals that this is not the case at all. There is no delay, but rather a lawful waiting period. Then we turn to Mr. Peters being "fettered" by this perplexing situation. I'm sure that the possibility of adding the words "Olympic Champion" to his resume makes him extremely eager to compete and win, considering the wonderful things it could do to his price for teaching dressage to Olympic hopefuls in the future.

What your paper is saying to the many who silently, but nonetheless eagerly, await the lawful passage of time in their quest for citizenship is that everyone is equal under the law, unless they are an Olympic hopeful or the champion of something athletic. In that case, you can petition the nearest publicity-loving public official for special dispensation. Laws were only made for common folds, or at least most of them.

This type of sensationalism is perpetually in the vogue with most of the media, but in my opinion, it is a questionable application of your journalistic freedom. But, hey, why not? The Star, the Enquirer and others of their ilk do it!

WILLIAM J. SHARP

Chula Vista

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