Fury over the field house

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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

Apparently, my recent column about the OPRF High School’s field house being outdated and well-deserving of an upgrade hit a nerve with readers. While our online content administrators shut down the comment portion of the column because a few did not meet posting guidelines, I have decided to address each and every one here on my blog.

This is the best way I could think of as to address some issues that came up in some of the recent comments, which have not been edited except for maybe a few symbol placements in a few expletives. Here are the comments, followed by my response:  


OPRF student

I would like to start off saying that even as i do agree with you Mr. Spencer that SOME of the field house could be updated, one of the things that make our field house unique is the feeling it has now.  When walking into the FH ive been told by students and parents from other schools that they like the way it feels because its not lit with bright florecent lights that takes away from the "down to earth/warm" feeling that lots of people enjoy when going to games the OPRF.

PT2: One of the things that makes our school stand out from the rest of the schools in our conference (silver or gold) is that we have a outstanding tradition of excelling in athletics and the feel of the field house as the way it is helps athletes channel they're ability by not only training constantly during practices and individual workouts but by looking on the walls and seeing banners and channeling the success that past students have had during their years at OPRF and in the field house.

PT3: Also regarding the locker rooms, the locker rooms arn't as far as they seem.  Teams only have to walk up a flight of stairs that allow for a little separation for before game prep.  Take boys basketball, they meet in the momorgram room before games because it allows them to have their pregame warm ups and meeting away from the crowds that can distract them from getting "in the zone".  Also it allows them to come together as a team and get mentally ready for the game ahead.


OPRF student, Well put. Thank you for such a fresh and well written perspective. I agree with you wholeheartedly, except for the down to earth/warm feeling part dim lighting might entail. I don’t think that would change with an upgrade in lighting on the northside of the facility, where the basketball court and the bleachers are.

Oak Park Mom

I don't disagree that the field house could use an upgrade but as they contemplate that perhaps the "powers that be" could also take a serious look at where they hold certain events. The WSSC wrestling showdown between Hinsdale Central and the Huskies took place in the West Gym. Not only was it crammed with people, many sitting on the floor, clogging the entry and straining to see, it had to be a fire hazard. What was happening in the Field House? Freshman basketball practice! C'mon people!

Oak Park Mom, There’s a lot of basketball levels for both boys and girls at high schools everywhere. Unfortunately, they all need a hardwood court to practice and play games on.  

No name

Must be a slow sports week. Find something purposeful to write about Spencer.  Better yet, win the lottery and you can write the huge check to fund your vision.

No name, There’s no need for me to play the lottery, the money for an upgrade to the facility is already in the bank. OPRF High School has millions of dollars on reserve. Besides, as an Oak Park property owner I’m already on the hook for funding such a renovation.

Hey there

Yeah because where else do you cram 3000 students and faculty during an assembly in the middle of winter? How about you do something useful and go call the people that gave 1.6 million to re-do scoville park. Scoville does not need to be re-done. The field house is fine, the extra 50 yards is a great work out anyway. Leave us alone.

Hey there, I never said anything about getting rid of the facility or splitting it in two. There are things that can be done to make basketball games more enjoyable for fans in the field house, including the installation of movable partitions (not the curtain kind), new lighting, concessions, etc. Your last sentence sounds as if I’m tickling you incessantly. I’m not. That’s weird.   

How rude

Why don't you go back and sit in your tiny fenwick gym that can't even hold all of oprfs fans while we beat you on your own turf in basketball? How dare you insult our field house that serves multiple purposes and has been a memorable part of the high school for decades. I'm appalled

How rude, I don’t know why you’re referring to Fenwick’s gym as mine. I do not own it, nor have any connection to Fenwick other than covering sports at the high school for Wednesday Journal, a weekly newspaper here in Oak Park that also does not own the Fenwick gym nor the private school itself. But you’re right, Fenwick’s gym is small — though I wouldn’t call it tiny. I had to stand the entire OPRF vs. Fenwick boys basketball game on Tuesday night, but who’s complaining?

OPRF student

To write about our beloved OPRF fieldhouse like this is absurd. There were plenty of other far more interesting topics to write about in the past week. For him to bash our FH like that is completely uncalled for. How about focus on some of the good things that happen in the FH? To name a few: Huskipalooza, OPRF beating Fenwick in basketball, track meets, Relay for Life, Homecoming, etc. How about a story about how it's oldest FH in the entire Midwest???

OPRF student, Beloved? If it is indeed the oldest field house in the entire Midwest, then for sure it needs an upgrade.   

No Brad, you sir are wrong.

Quick question for brad spencer, who asked you? There is an overcrowding problem at OPRF in the first place, and there are about 5 gyms in the school including the fieldhouse that can't hold all of the students comfortably. There is nothing wrong with the fieldhouse. There have been no problems with the fieldhouse. If it aint' broke, don't fix it. I'M LOOKING AT YOU BRAD SPENCER.

No Brad, you sir are wrong, Are you seriously looking at me right now, because if you are then you can see I’m completely creeped out, enough so to hunch down under the desk and reach up and type the rest of this without properly seeing the scrn ….5 gyns more, fifelhousussse,mpaintjob, tracklightiggggg wld b nice   

Current Student

exaggerations. Your complaint that our field house is "way too large" is absolutely ridiculous. Consider for one second that the sole purpose of such a facility cannot only be for basketball games, which may constitute less than 1% of its actual use, but instead it must function for a variety of sports for an immense amount of students. Your claim that it's too dim or yellow-lit is baseless. Maybe you could have looked up at the windows.

Current Student, The “windows” or skylights are useless at night, when the basketball games are played. The facility is too big for hoops games, but not for its general use. There are ways to upgrade the facility so it can be better retrofitted for specific sports. And yes, my exaggerations are ridiculous. 

brad spencer, you are the most ignorant person ever

your ignorance is a disgrace. EVERYTHING IN THIS ARTICLE IS WRONG. yeah, the ball rolls 50 yards away all of the time... BECAUSE THERE ARE BLEACHERS SURROUNDING THE ENTIRE COURT. & the school spirit at OPRF KILLS IT! the dog pound is always jumping... & during the spirit assemblies, the field house is overflowing with students. & instead of a walk to wisconsin, how about a walk down half a hallway... JUST SAVE YOURSELF AND STOP WRITING.

brad spencer, you are the most ignorant person ever, The bleachers do not surround the court. There are gaps on the south end. If I am the most ignorant person ever, then how am I able to type without hitting the caps lock?  

Another OPRF Kid

You can't touch our fieldhouse.  There's nothing wrong with it. Its not oversized, and the lighting has never caused any problems.  I'm a student athlete--I basically live in the fieldhouse and I'm offended that this article was even written.  Have a problem with the conditions you have to endure to 'report' about OPRF sports?  Find another job.

Another OPRF Kid, I’m talking about an upgrade here, something that may enhance your athletic abilities even at an individual level. What’s so wrong about that? Spending a few hours in the gym is fine, but if I had to live there I’d be at my wits end.   

brad spencer has no idea what he is talking about

i REFUSE to buy the paper until brad spencer stops this nonsense... he is a joke.

brad spencer has no idea …, Good news, there’s no charge for refusing to buy the paper. Perhaps we should promote that more.  

Keith Bogans

Lost my virginity in that field house, and they should never change it

Keith Bogans, During a badminton tournament? 

 yet ANOTHER outraged OPRF student

I am a student athlete as well, and I love the field house. I wouldn't want to play anywhere else. you have no idea what you are talking about. you contradict yourself in your dumb article too. OH YEAH DEFINITELY LETS GET A JUMBOTRON BRAD GREAT IDEA... and then you try to say, and i don't mean let's get flat screens. NO BODY WANTS YOU AT OPRF ANYWAY.

yet ANOTHER outraged OPRF student, Of course a jumbotron is not going to happen. I was joking; what do you think this is the United Center? But a laser-light show during player introductions would be killer dude!


While it may be ture that the field house may need a face lift, everything else about your artical is wrong.  Have you ever been to another highschool field house before? many of them are much larger, in addtion the field house need to house up to 3 sometimes 4 sports teams practices and games at a time.  If anything I have often thought the field house was too small.

Anonymous, The field house is old, ugly and too large for basketball games. No, I’ve never seen one as old and ugly as the one at OPRF. But things can be done about that. And the money is available.     

Outraged Student

Brad, does it feel good to tear OPRF apart in every which way? Get off of your Fenwick high horse and realize that OPRF is better than Fenwick. We have so much more rich tradition. This 'crap FH' you wrote about is just the tradition I'm talking about. What does Fenwick have? A 'state of the art' pool facility? Its nice and all, but I'd take the FH at OPRF ANY DAY OVER ANYTHING AT FENWICK. The FH is home of champions, the banners hanging in there say it all.

Outraged Student, I simply suggested the school look into upgrading the field house. I am not on any sort of Fenwick high horse, nor do I compare the two schools. OPRF and Fenwick both have their own great qualities as institutions.     

Pissed Off, Current Student

Why would you ever try to attemp to tear down the field house. Like the many people that comment of course you have no basis of which to berate the Field House. It holds tradition and perfectly state of the art, sure we could have a consession stand but really YOU ARE A HORRIBLE WRITER! How did you even get out of highschool you pompous a**hole

Pissed Off, Current Student, I do not want the field house torn down. I do want my tax dollars being spent to better educate students as to how to conduct a mature discussion. So if there’s money left over after the renovation, perhaps you’ll benefit.


Brad spencer is a b***h a*s f*gg**t

F**K BRAD SPENCER, Classy, real classy, your parents must be very proud.  

OPRF student

Our field house is the perfect size.  Also it is a piece of history, built back in the 20s or so.  They do not need to spend millions to replace a perfectly good field house that is functional.  If anything it's too small, it would be nice to fit a 200 meter track in there.  Spencer, you are an idiot for writing this, write your bad arguments somewhere else.

OPRF student, Your post was going so well until your last sentence with the personal attack. Again, don’t want to replace your historical field house, just want to upgrade the interior. Is that really so idiotic?

mad oprf student

have you ever even been in the field house? it's part of our school, and even though our school has its problems, everybody loves it there. so shut up cause you have no idea what you're talking about.

mad oprf student, I have spent 11 years of my life covering local sports in Oak Park and River Forest, so, yes, I have been in the field house multiple times.  


Lmao, you're rediculous. You wouldn't know traditon if it smacked you in the face. Did you forget the 3,500 students we have to fit into the field house for Spirit Assemblys? Obviously you did, of course the locker rooms could use an upgrade but to tear down one of the oldest field houses in the US is insane. Take your bullshit article and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.


Lost my watch in that field house, and they could never find it

oprf, Sorry to hear.    

Darb J

My name is Brad Spencer and I think I'm funny.

Darb J, My name is Brad Spencer too. What a wacky coincidence! 

Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Bruce Kline  

Posted: April 22nd, 2018 11:15 AM

People who continually rant and rave about replacing a classic historical structure such as the field house are the same who would have replaced Duke Indoor Cameron Arena and the UofP Palestra. Those classic structures have been tastefully renovated over the years and continue as iconic functional sports emporia. Thank god the "purists" at Duke and UofP did not listen to the neanderthals.The calls in Oak Park for the field house destruction - rather than tasteful renovation - comes from the same brutal mindset: those with no sense of history or architectural appreciation - indeed the height of irony considering we are Oak Park.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: April 22nd, 2018 6:30 AM

Its old so it has to be replaced. The money is in the bank so it has to be spent. Property owners are already on the hook for funding. No, no and no. Those are all very weak arguments. You are trying to put us all on the hook for some project you personally want, and we do not need. This is more blather about changing everything so somehow a new pool can be built as the overall changing of everything.

Dean Rogers from Oak Park  

Posted: April 21st, 2018 3:15 AM

The fieldhouse represents tradition and is unique.The basket ball court should be returned to the center of the floor.The portable coutaide seating was a welcome addition.As for locker rooms,maybe upgrade a couple,but no one uses them anymore.Since the advent of coed PE,there is only one coach for two locker rooms.People return to class without showers,contradicting everything we were taught in health class. The Monogram room,or at least all it's trophies,photos and momentos should be in a location more accessible to the public.

Anonymous from Oak Park  

Posted: November 1st, 2012 11:41 PM

Brad buddy, what you are doing here is digging yourself into a deeper hole, those smart ass comments do not go down well with us Oak Parkers, just warning you

Outraged Student  

Posted: December 29th, 2011 10:22 AM

I applaud you for doing this Mrs. Spencer, but making fun of some people here, including students, not smart. And Carson Cornelius, we got new bleachers so learn your facts. Us students will see you at the next home game Mrs. Spencer

TLipo from Oak Park  

Posted: December 28th, 2011 11:12 AM

I don't have too much of an opinion regarding the fieldhouse other than it has considerable historic and nostalgic significance to our community. However, maybe some of the "fury" in these comments reflects the ongoing mean-spirited and negative news coverage that OPRFHS continues to experience by the Wednesday Journal. I'm not referring to sports but news and eidtorial coverage. Maybe a knee-jerk reaction but a natural one given the WJ's history.

OPRF Mom from River Forest  

Posted: December 25th, 2011 11:08 AM

Nicely done Spencer. A column answering comments so you can have the last word! Regarding my comment about freshman basketball practice, I do believe the west gym where they crammed in that wrestling match has a hardwood floor and is just fine for a basketball practice. But I am with you all the way on the field house renovation. Don't forget to upgrade the sound system - every announcer sounds like the drive through at McDonalds, "mmmmpphhh, mmmpph, mmmppph"

Jorge Disdick  

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 9:26 PM

A new 200m track with Mondo surface would be very nice... Now the purpose of your article, I'm sure, was not meant to try and possibly pursued the school to renovate it. Like they would listen to you. Hah nice try. Trust me when i tell you, the readers of the newspaper you write for want to hear stories about athletes at the school, or better yet... maybe a coach here or there. Give credit where its deserved. Learn who the people you write for are brad spencer.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 5:56 PM

Sorry to be a pest. But I've been thinking about other improvements in addition to the mongram room. Clearly OPRF meeds a massive swimming pool upgrade: 8 lanes 50 meters. It's been discussed. More space could theoretically come on the east side by pushing through the basketball lockerroom, garage and what remains of the tunnel. IMHO, the fieldhouse isn't too big, it's size is what makes it unique. I'd like to see it bigger. Some adjustment for basketball may be desireable.


Posted: December 23rd, 2011 8:08 AM

Its like your goal is to get a rise out of people. Please go back a read some articles that Tim Stablein used to write. He was a writer that cared about the sports and student athletes of the school he reported. You just keep trying to be that funny clown. Your articles are a joke so it fits perfect. You write for a local paper in Oak Park. Just write the facts and keep your opinions to yourself. PLEASE

Ashamed OPRF Student  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 11:40 PM

Sorry for my peers' reactions to the article. You wonder why people see the students at OPRF as the scum of the town, and then you read these comments and its quite clear. Sure, the field house is historical and perhaps shouldn't be renovated past a new coat of paint, but personally attacking someone you've never met? Thats ridiculous. I'm ashamed, and apologize for the comments. Not all of the students are so vulgar and can't have a serious conversation without cursing you out.

Carson Cornelius from Oak Park  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 10:26 PM

Wow, this is embarrassing. The fieldhouse has needed renovations for years. Half of the bleachers are useless, and the rest of the building could use a facelift as well. Way to finally say what has been needed for a long time.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 9:51 PM

mark the pole in preparation for track meets. In the old days, the surface was blue clay and the pole had to be reestablished for every meet. This is a great, unique, legendary facility. And with a little planning and care it can be improved into an even better facility. And I apologize for such a long trip down memory lane.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 9:48 PM

cont II The trick is to improve the faciliity while retaining its traditional look and feel. This is an impressive facility and I guarantee you that athletes from other schools are still impressed. It simply needs to be updated and improved a bit. I find it refreshing that the response has been so strong to the idea of rennovating it. There would be budgetary consideerations in any plans for the FH, plus decisions to be made on how the building will be used. I recall helping Bob Wright

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 9:43 PM

cont: The women's basketball competition in the 1954 Pan Am games was held in the field house. This is a marvelous facility with a storied history. But like any facility of its age, it's time to consider upgrading it. Personally, I agree with whoever suggested a 200M track. And upgrades to the lighting and amenities can only help the game day experience. The monogram room is badly in need of rennovation. And the whole "look" of the place can be upgraded. New surfaces or paint.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: December 22nd, 2011 9:38 PM

Some of my fondest memories are of the field house. Many of you may not be aware that graduation used to be held there. With risers set up on the south end. And in the old days OP had an extraordinary indoor track program. The culmination of the season was the Oak Park Relays, which came to be the largest indoor track meet on a high school campus in the country. Three divisions, nearly a hundred schoos represented and over 1200 competitors. My senior year the finals were televised on WFLD.

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