Jousting as the State SportEditor: In his Nov. 3 column...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 07, 1991

Jousting as the State Sport

Editor: In his Nov. 3 column, ''State Sport Should Be Revised to Require Less Snorting, Drooling,'' Michael Olesker proposes that our fine state sport, jousting, should be dethroned and replaced with duckpin bowling.

In my opinion, duckpin bowling lacks the dignity, beauty, honor and merit that accompanies jousting, and Mr. Olesker's ludicrous suggestion lacks any credibility.

The admirable sport of jousting, which was voted Maryland's state sport in 1962, probably originated in France in the 11th century. It started as combat between two men on horseback using blunted lances and swords. It was originally used to determine strength and honor among knights, but was also practiced as sport by others seeking acclamation.

More recently, opponents have been replaced by rings and full armor has become unnecessary. These changes have led to the development of today's sport which is practiced throughout Europe and the Americas, and at the Annual Jousting Tournament in Cordova, Md.

Duckpin bowling, on the other hand, was only introduced in 1900 by two ex-baseball stars and co-owners of the Diamond Bowling Allies in Baltimore. Duckpins were first intended for young children who could not lift the larger balls.

The exceptional skill demonstrated by sportsmen is what makes jousting such an honorable sport. The dignity involved in mounting a horse for battle makes rolling balls toward pins seem silly. Because jousting was practiced by the rich and noble during the end of the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, it remains one of the most dignified sports in existence.

The idea of man overcoming beast has represented harmony and unison in art and literature, and first and foremost in equestrian sports since ancient times. Duckpin bowling is somewhat unattractive and uncouth, while the beauty and grace embellishing the sport of jousting are self-evident.

Working at the Maryland Renaissance Festival as a squire, I discovered first-hand how much training and practice jousting entails, and I would not dare compare this with the facility and artlessness I recall of the summer duckpin bowling league I joined as a young child.

Mr. Olesker facetiously named a few sports he would like to see adopted by our state: ''Crushing beer cans against your forehead. . . swiping hubcaps from moving cars,'' both of which we are more prone to find among frequenters of a bowling alley or pool hall than of a jousting tournament.

William P. Brooks.

Millersville.

Don't Drill ANWR

Editor: I am writing in response to your editorial on the ANWR published Nov. 3.

How in the world can you list the reasons to "reduce our dependence on foreign oil" and then conclude that the best solution is simply to use up every drop of domestic oil, rather than work on alternative energy and transportation sources? We aren't going to survive the next decade, much less the next century, with that kind of maverick far-sightedness.

Throughout the editorial, "Big Oil" is referred to as pulling all the strings in Washington, to the point of going ahead with domestic drilling when decent safeguards aren't in place and those that are haven't worked to prevent dead oil-soaked wildernesses anyway! Is this a pro or a con? And then the conclusion was made that the ANWR should be opened up to drilling and destruction, but that it would be permissible if we were to "insist on air-tight [oil industry] controls." Did I see an oxymoron?

Opening the ANWR to oil drilling will only prolong our dependence on oil -- and foreign or domestic petroleum is the problem. If we adulterate the ANWR and use it for its oil, what will we have in a few decades? A ruined wilderness, a bigger hole in the ozone and a lot of panicked Americans who still have no viable alternative to fossil fuel.

Deirdre Durbin.

Glencoe.

The writer is education chair of the Sierra Club's Greater Baltimore Group.

Self-Help

Editor: We are all concerned about rising unemployment and layoffs at some of our largest companies. We look to our politicians to come up answers to these dilemmas.

We have given Japan all of our consumer electronics business (TV, VCR, etc.). We have given Japan 30 percent of our automobile business.

Isn't it time for us to stop waiting for our politicians to do something? Isn't it time to support our automobile industry and buy American cars? This would not only help our employment situation but would also help our trade deficit.

Politicians didn't build America, people did.

Don Keesler.

Lutherville.

Valuable Service

Editor: The closing of severalbranches of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and the curtailing of services in the remaining branches is a tragedy for the city.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library in one of the glories of Baltimore, the city that reads. Today, more than ever, its services are needed by young and old.

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