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American business executives believe that deficiencies in mathematics, science, English, and basic skills are responsible for the United States' declining competitiveness in the world market, a survey of Fortune 500 executives has found.

Some 88 percent of the research-and-development executives surveyed said there were deficiencies in the U.S. educational system. Asked to identify those shortcomings, 30 percent cited students' poor ability in math, science, and English at the secondary and college levels, and 23 percent said poor basic education at the elementary-school level.

The executives also said the high quality of the Japanese and West German educational systems was a major reason why those countries have made technological gains.

In addition, a majority of the respondents said the United States' technological literacy rate was "very low,'' compared with those of other industrialized nations, and nearly 90 percent said that all citizens, not just those with technical talent, must be technologically literate.

The Opinion Research Corporation conducted the survey for the Waltham, Mass.-based GTE Laboratories Inc. It was released this month at the Boston Museum of Science at a ceremony marking National Science and Technology Week.

The number of high-school football players who died as a result of participating in the sport nearly tripled in 1986 over the previous year, a new study has found.

Eleven high-school football players died last year, the highest total in a decade, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill reported this month. Four football players died as a result of competition in the 1985 season.

Also during the 1986 season, six players died from causes indirectly related to football, including heart attacks following exertion. Only one player died under similar circumstances the previous year.

"If [the deaths] continue to climb, we'll have to look at how coaches are teaching blocking and tackling once again, and also look at the standards for football helmets,'' said Frederick O. Mueller, a professor of physical education and the study's principal researcher. Of the 12 deaths that occurred in high-school and college football last year, 9 were the result of head injuries, he noted.

The study was based on information from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and about 150 people nationwide who monitor sports accidents.

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