Race says goodbye to soccer column, puts in a plug for lights

Opinion

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For the handful of you who mark your calendars to read my monthly soccer column in the Sports section, I regret to inform you that I've been "retired" by Wednesday Journal.

I've enjoyed chronicling the local soccer scene for these past four years, promoting the sport I've developed a passion for. The surge in popularity of soccer in Oak Park and River Forest is a microcosm of its growing acceptance in the United States. You, the enthusiastic players and supportive parents are the reason why America is discovering "the beautiful sport." As the current Nike TV soccer commercial intones, we continue to "... tell it to the world!"

This letter will not be an extended mea culpa as to why Wednesday Journal and its Sport Editor saw fit to retire me. Their stated reason was that they wanted to go in a different direction with the column, and that there may be a conflict of interest having ties to local youth soccer clubs as well as at the high school level.

I would have thought that being involved in three youth soccer clubs (River Forest Youth Soccer, Rapids and Strikers) qualified me to comment on the local soccer scene regardless of my high school affiliation. In fact, my columns in the past profiled both OPRFHS and Fenwick soccer programs, but whatever.

Memo to my successor: Don't get too involved in the local soccer programs. I don't know what you'll be able to write about, but at least you'll meet the "qualifications!"

As a final word, my recently submitted (but not published) column among other items, urged River Forest soccer parents/taxpayers to attend the Development Review Board meeting at Village Hall to express your support for lights on the western half of Keystone Park.

Seems the village wants factual support from the park district as to why the soccer programs need nighttime practices and games.

Here's a suggestion to village trustees: Get in your car and drive by any one of our parks on a weekday afternoon or Saturday morning. You'll see about 750 reasons, ages 5-14, crowding each other, vying for field space. A picture here truly is worth a thousand words.

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