Missing from the OPRF coaches’ plea for lights in the stadium was any consideration for the people living across Linden Avenue from those proposed lights. As someone with no personal stake in this issue, it is precisely their view that I believe the village must give disproportionate weight in this decision.
The coaches’ letter made this even clearer to me. Their argument for lights was, well, light. They gave no compelling reasons for the costly investment, and certainly none for the disruption that such a change in the character of this neighborhood with increased evening traffic and illumination would bring. The coaches trotted out a couple clichés: “Why should OPRF student-athletes not also enjoy ‘those things that are best?'” and “We respectfully ask our village to help us compete with other schools on a ‘level playing field.'” Perhaps they would not sound so silly, but I have watched a few softball games between OPRF and Proviso West that makes it very clear that lights have nothing to do with being the best. Or leveling a field.
Given the lack of any truly compelling reason for such an innovation, simple standards of justice require that the interests of stadium’s neighbors be given priority. It is clear, if the coaches’ arguments are the best that can be made, that no one will suffer any hardship if lights never shine on the OPRF stadium. Yet I can’t help but think that the neighbors will bear a burden that few of us would want to assume. I, for one, know that I would not want such a thing to happen across the street from my house.
I am also not sure that the true impact is widely known. One local paper reported: “Only varsity football games would be allowed under the lights, and up to two night games for boys’ and girls’ soccer, lacrosse and girls’ field hockey games. The lights would be turned off at 8 p.m.” Yet the coaches’ letter referred to practices, as well, and three or four nights in the Fall when 8 p.m. would not be closing time. How many nights are we talking about over what period? It seems to me likely that every weeknight in October and the first half of November will be candidates for illuminated practice or games.
Now, if I am wrong, and the neighbors agree with the coaches, let them shine–as long as no tax money is used to put them into place or maintain them.
Having said that, I am sure that the booster club could find better ways to spend this money, ways that would not seriously disrupt the lives of neighbors of the high school, and would also truly enhance the lives of the OPRF student-athletes.