Opinion Your Views — 27 February 2014
It’s time to light up the night at T.C. Williams

By Laura Fries, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

There has to be a middle ground between the needs of children and the comfort of our fellow community members when it comes to putting lights on our athletic fields. So when opponents ask what’s there to talk about? I say plenty.

A bad agreement — one that oppresses many in favor of a few — is a bad agreement, whether seven years old or 40. Residents angry at City Hall are hurting students and athletes with this misguided cause.

The only culture of arrogance that I see is one that argues semantics while holding an entire city hostage out of spite. What a sad sequel this story makes to “Remember the Titans.”

I would like to remind opponents of any and all lights of the net effect that their crusade has had on the city. If T.C. Williams can’t host a football game on Friday night, that means rugby, lacrosse, soccer and other events can’t be scheduled for the field during a typical Saturday.

By eschewing the standard illuminated Friday night game, the schedule of every other sporting and extracurricular activity revolves around daytime football games. Students have to choose between marching band and crew, scouts or rugby.

A college admissions officer asked one recent high school student why they quit their preferred sport in their varsity years. The short answer is because T.C. doesn’t have lights. Everyone’s schedule has to be reworked, sacrifices are made and sports are dropped because there are no lights.

Team spirit and community support for football games suffer as well, not to mention the schedule juggling our neighboring jurisdictions must do to pencil in games with T.C. teams. It puts the teams and the students at a disadvantage. For light opponents to cry persecution shows a complete lack of perspective on just who is affected by this agreement.

Surely, given light curfews, regulated field use and technical advancements, neighbors could agree to a civil discussion. The “not in my backyard” argument just doesn’t hold water anymore, especially when the same group tries to stop lights at every venue in the city.

As a resident who lives close to Eugene Simpson Stadium Park, a well-lit venue, I relish the tink of a bat connecting with a ball, the cheer of the crowd, and the opportunity to meet with neighbors and have a hot dog. I appreciate the decrease in crime because of the field lights. I also appreciate knowing the children of our community have a safe space to play sports at night.

The only way to move forward on this is to let go of the past anger toward City Hall. Try to look at it from a student’s point of view.

How much of a negative would it be for neighbors versus the benefits gained by thousands of students? Why not embrace the opportunity to give something to our community rather than take it away?

 

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