The author is absolutely right [“Voting Rocks,” May 5] that when more young people vote, politicians will pay attention. However, two factual errors and a misunderstanding of the reality of young voter turnout in 2004 harm the argument.

First, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is incorrect that young voter turnout in 2004 was lower than in 1996. In fact, in 2004 turnout among 18-29 year olds jumped an unprecedented 9 percentage points over 2000 levels and more than 20 million under 30s voted. But in 1996 only 15.6 million 18-29 year olds voted.

Further, the author states that turnout figures only account for the percent of “registered” voters who voted. This is incorrect. Turnout figures are calculated based on the number of voting-age people. And in 2004, an historic number of “registered” young people voted – more than 81 percent!

So while I agree with some of what the author says, it’s important to understand that turnout among young voters in 2004 was monumental and – when looked at alongside the fact that turnout among young people increased in Virginia and New Jersey during the ’05 gubernatorial elections (even though turnout overall dropped) – shows that we’re witnessing a sea change in young voter participation and a very positive move forward for our democracy.

Rather than continuing to perpetuate the myth of "young voter apathy," let’s celebrate what’s happening here – an emerging, engaged generation – and build on that momentum in 2006.

Kat Barr, Young Voter Strategies


NBA Playoffs

I imagine that there’s quite a large group of sports fans who share your apathy [“Wake me up when it’s over,” May 2] about the playoffs in the NBA this year. I’m one of them. It’s a shame, too, as Lebron should be a compelling story – coming into his own in the postseason finally, hitting two buzzer-beating shots in one series. Even though he should have received a technical foul for interfering with Arenas when he was preparing to shoot his free-throws, James should be enough to make these playoffs interesting.

Kobe, as well. He could have had a triple-digit scoring game earlier in the year, but he’s so image-conscious, God knows why, he didn’t want to come across as selfish. But here we are in the second round and the Lakers are out. We don’t even need to go into the ethical issue concerning the status or future legacy of Kobe Bryant, the man, the individual, anyway.

I think some of the answer to the lackadaisical problem with the NBA these days lies with the way Michael Jordan was practically deified throughout his tenure as a player. Watching ESPN the other day, at first I thought it was odd that they kept flashing to Jordan standing up there in the crowd as he cheered the Bulls on during one of their games. It got to be so ridiculous that they were showing Jordan, his fists pumping, excited for his old team for probably the first time, just as much, if not more, than they did the actual players on the court who were playing the game.

Jordan was one of those rare athletes who all sports fans, years down the road, will feel lucky they even had the opportunity to watch on television.

Unfortunately, the bar was placed so high that nobody can even come within reach of it. Kobe blew it with the Colorado scandal. Lebron has a shot, but does anybody really think Cleveland is going to give Detroit a run for their money? Hip Nike commercials don’t get you there.

The thing is, though, even if a player racks up multiple championships, as in the case of Tim Duncan, there’s an intangible aspect to Jordan’s aura, a psychological phenomenon, that has seeped into nearly every basketball fan’s mind – the certainty that no player will ever surprise and astound us the way Jordan did. It’s simply not possible. He did things on the court, in the most clutch situations, and handled himself so well, not appearing arrogant (or having to face a possible prison sentence), that I don’t think many fans really believe anybody can hold a torch to him.

Still, the game is what it is. Maybe Michael should do us all a favor, though, and teach these guys how to act before they reveal their true character, or lack thereof. If not, then he should stay out of the limelight, just so we can forget how high the bar was raised.

Come on, 23 – help us out here. We can’t handle the truth.

Sean Meagher, caregiver