Kirkwood opens its season at home against Jefferson City on Friday night and I plan on being there – and I hope the place is surrounded by police.
Yes, that’s a sad commentary on current events in the St. Louis area. But following the fatal violence last Friday near Soldan and the dangerous antics at Parkway North, safety for students, parents, fans and players should take priority over the game itself.
Following jamboree games at Soldan, numerous fights reportedly broke out, according to police. As police dispersed the crowd, shots rang out. Jurnee Thompson, 8, was killed while waiting with family members outside a nearby restaurant.
Continuous fights at the Parkway North football jamboree reached a crescendo when a single gunshot was reported. No arrests have been made in either incident, but the investigations continue.
We all know what many people were thinking on Saturday morning, don’t we?
“I would expect this kind of thing at Soldan, but not Parkway North.”
I immediately viewed video images of the Parkway North melee, somehow hoping that I would not see what I knew I would.
Yes, it was black youths fighting.
Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, most high school football games were played on Saturday afternoon. Many schools didn’t have lights, but there was also a growing concern with fights and other unlawful behavior becoming more commonplace.
But the lure of “Friday Night Lights,” led to high schools adding lights and returning to night games. Game nights in Kirkwood are special now. They have a community feel. I’m sure the same is true at Soldan and Parkway North.
The ugliness that happened last Friday is not the respective schools’ fault. It’s the fault of a culture of violence that is like a wildfire out of control among too many black youths and adults.
A high school football or basketball game should be a safe haven. Parents should want their children there – it certainly is better than roaming the streets looking for trouble.
But now, unfortunately, trouble is finding them.
What goes on near a school or in a parking lot before, after and during a game is impossible to completely control.
But I do not want to here a single complaint about heavy police presence in and around area football fields and gyms. Law abiding youths and parents deserve to be safe while they enjoy the efforts of those who strive to do the right thing.
It can start at Kirkwood on Friday night, and I’ll shake every police officer’s hand I see and say, “thank you.”
MLS’ new rivalry
While the St. Louis Cardinals have dominated the Kansas City Royals throughout the years of interleague play, our cross-state rival has been to a pair of World Series (2014, 2015) since the Redbirds last appearance in 2013.
In 2022, a new rivalry will be born when the MLS expansion St. Louis No Names begin playing against KC Sporting.
For Sporting, it’s a godsend. You see, the Kansas City franchise’s nearest MLS competitor is Minneapolis. It’s 438 miles away. The distance to Chicago is 525 miles. Those are treks fans might take to see an NFL game or to take in several MLB games during a weekend.
That’s too far for a true rivalry to develop between MLS fans.
St. Louis is just 250 miles away from Children’s Mercy Park, home of Sporting. By the way, the stadium is in Kansas City, Kansas, about 10 miles from downtown Kansas City.
Before the August 20 announcement that St. Louis had secured an expansion franchise, Sporting Club coach Peter Vermes told the Kansas City Star, “It would be great for the league, great for St. Louis but also great for us.
“…Having another team close by would be good for us. We need more teams in the middle of the country.”
Sporting midfielder Wan Kuzain, an Illinois native who played youth soccer in St. Louis, said the state live between Missouri and Kansas will make no difference in the future matchup.
“Yeah, I would say there is a rivalry there,” he told the Star.
“Whether it’s an actual rivalry or not, there’s a feeling that you want to be the best in the state.”
MLS’ new Nazi woes
MLS is between a rock and a hard place.
Symbols used by white supremacists and new-Nazis have been spotted at MLS games to the horror of many fans. However, some fans’ signs stand against Fascism and feel other fanatical beliefs should be allowed.
MLS, in response, recently banned all signs of a political nature.
Three independent groups of fans at a game between the host Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders remained quiet for the first 33 minutes of the game in protest of the MLS edict.
The 33 minutes is symbolic of 1933, the year the anti-Nazi paramilitary organization Iron Front was disbanded in Germany. Its symbol, three arrows aiming down and to the left, has been used on signs at games. It is now banned.
Yahoo Sports columnist Caitlin Murray wrote last week, “a sign that denounces racism, fascism or homophobia is allowed under the new guidelines — that's about human rights and the inclusiveness the MLS front office has championed, the league says.”
“Meanwhile, a sign that endorses a political organization, candidate or policy is not allowed — that's political.
One would think that would make most MLS fans happy. However, the decision has been met with disdain from many fans.
The angst stems from New York FC home games becoming am open-air gathering of Nazi sympathizers and supremacists.
In Atlanta, several fans of the United franchise claim they were ejected from Mercedes-Benz Stadium because they had a sign accusing NYFC home games of being a meeting place for Nazis. MLS said they were ejected for refusing to remove the sign and then scuffling with security. They could have stayed if they had complied with the policy.
In a statement to Yahoo Sports, MLS President Mark Abbott said, “The prohibition on political signage is in place to support the overwhelming majority of MLS fans who come to our stadiums to enjoy a great soccer game.”
“Major League Soccer fully and wholeheartedly condemns racism, discrimination, fascism and any form of hatred. We and our clubs will continue to permit signs that support basic human rights, as the rainbow pride flag does, as well as those that condemn racism and fascism.”
Knowing St. Louis as I do, I would advise the successful St. Louis ownership group led by Caroline Kindle-Betz to prepare to handle hatred lurking in the stands of the new soccer stadium just as it does at NYFC home games.
The Reid Roundup
Dexter Fowler’s return to the top of the batting order has sparked the surging St. Louis Cardinals. I wonder – where the hate has gone? The answer is “nowhere.” It’s still there … Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout has lasted more than a month and his total in fines has far surpassed $1 million. Is he getting sound advice from his representation team? ... Andrew Luck suddenly retired, and the Indianapolis Colts are not going to make him return more than $25 million in bonus money … I get why some fans booed him as he walked off the field last Saturday. It seems that no one wants to say it, but he did quit on his team. He might have good reason, but he quit … Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports1, who I don’t care for, is catching flak for saying, "Retiring cause rehabbing is ‘too hard’ is the most millennial thing ever."… The Colts didn’t want Luck’s bonus cash back. The Detroit Lions demanded repayment from future Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson when he abruptly retired, as the franchise did years ago when Barry Sanders called it quits. As a result, Johnson wants nothing to do with the team … The Formula1 racing season resumes this week with the Belgian Grand Prix after its four-week summer break. Points leader Lewis Hamilton is a heavy favorite to win his third consecutive driver’s championship and his sixth overall.