The Jan. 31 Star Tribune devoted two and half pages to write the obituary of the Richfield High School hockey program (“Where hockey died”). In the state of hockey, this was deemed a tragedy, and the blame is placed on the changing socioeconomic status of the Richfield community. Similar tragedies are playing out in other communities that have a similar location within the metro area.

What the article failed to do was emphasize that the Richfield public school system is thriving, not dying. It doesn’t mention that the high school has students lined up to play soccer, basketball, Nordic skiing, baseball and many other sports. But this still misses the point. These lower socioeconomic families have students attending Yale, Stanford, Rice, St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota and more, all with Richfield diplomas in hand.

The Richfield public schools may no longer have hockey, but the school community still has students, families and teachers who believe in diversity, inclusiveness, hard work, effort, academics, beating the odds and giving their best every day. They just don’t play hockey.

Aaron Tepp, Afton

The writer is a longtime Richfield teacher.

• • •

In my time on the Richfield Youth Hockey board back in the late 1990s, I was astonished when a number of vocal parents wanted to cut squirts (8-year-olds) so their kid had a better chance of winning a few more games during the season. Those same kids are now in high school. Some parents were instrumental bringing in kids cut from an “A” team in another community, rather than developing our own talent. I’ll never forget the great “jersey number” controversy. During my tenure, the board never could eliminate buying jerseys every year to reduce $100 of cost in an effort to make hockey more affordable because a few vocal parents didn’t want their kid to lose his or her favorite number. None of this helped build the program and contributed to the declining youth enrollment built to feed the high school team.

Changing demographics, cost and the competition of other sports are the primary factors in the demise of hockey in Richfield. However, failing to be inclusive and develop a meaningful strategic plan was also influential. It is a sad day when my community, one of the historical powerhouses in the great state of hockey, folds its program. I mourn it like a death in the family and hope other communities can learn from our mistakes.

Kathleen White, Richfield

 

THE 2016 CAMPAIGN

Anger and a hopefulness, of sorts, in a pair of opinions

The Jan. 31 Opinion Exchange articles by Bonnie Blodgett and D.J. Tice about the presidential race (“Sanders gives boomers a chance to rekindle fire” and “As radicals arise, gridlock never looked so good,” respectively) offered two interesting views of essentially the same phenomenon. This may be one of the most feeble groups of candidates on either side that we’ve had in years, yet they are all tapping into a very real anger that is out there. Regarding this, one could say Tice is optimistic while Blodgett is angry. Blodgett’s point is well-taken: What’s happened to us to accept this state of affairs? We used to be a people who solved problems. On the other hand, Tice’s point rings true as well. Over the years we have had countless terrible leaders, yet we survived because we have a constitutional process that tends to keep them from doing too much damage once in office. I guess that passes for optimism.

Perhaps both are right. It is important for us all to sit up, take notice and try to fix the failings of a system that has clearly made all the anger appropriate. We’ve got some real problems. At the same time, we need to have faith that no matter who wins, we’re all in this together and we will survive to fight another day.

D. Roger Pederson, Minneapolis

 

CULTURE CLASHES

Actually, race relations have improved in St. Cloud

The writer of the Jan. 31 article “St. Cloud grapples with immigration clashes” was trying to cover a multitude of angles, so I can partly understand her neglect of one particular angle — that race relations obviously have improved in the St. Cloud area. This was pointed out numerous times by panelists, of East African descent, participating in a Jan. 28 forum hosted by Minnesota Public Radio and attended by a standing-room-only crowd at St. Cloud’s Great River Regional Library. Panelist Lul Hersi said that it is a handful of hateful people who have caused problems. Another panelist, Hafsa Abdi, a senior at St. Cloud’s Technical High School, concurred — and said that many students who caused problems at her high school last year have graduated. When panel moderator Tom Weber asked for a show of hands from people who have had dinner or coffee at their homes with Somali residents, at least 40 people raised their hands. Numerous St. Cloud residents are making an effort to get along with these new residents. They want to extend hands in friendship; they want to understand; they want to live in harmony. Rednecks lurk in St. Cloud and, I suspect, any other city in the United States — but they don’t rule.

Sylvia Lang, Sauk Rapids, Minn.

• • •

The Jan. 31 article once again resurrected a typical liberal victimization canard. Noting that a state human rights officer position was terminated, it declared that “even before that, records show that the office had limited success in addressing possible discrimination against African immigrants in St. Cloud.” The evidence presented? Only 15 complaints filed with the office over the course of six years.

To suggest that those in the Somali community do not understand the process of filing complaints, lawsuits and other formal grievances is rather absurd, considering their enthusiastic embrace of our legal system to publicize and air their complaints and to seek relief on a regular and highly publicized basis. This situation reminds me of one some years ago when the Minneapolis Civilian Review Board began making outreach appearances and presentations in minority communities, declaring that the low number of complaints received was evidence of poor understanding of the process by residents. Could it be that a less complicated explanation of the low complaint rate was a low incidence of actual episodes of overt discrimination and maltreatment? It’s a viable theory, if one doesn’t have a vested interest in ginning up complaints to justify one’s own existence.

Thomas Rice, Ham Lake

 

HOLLYWOOD AND RACE

Is this yet another example of politically correct distortion?

I agree wholeheartedly with William Goldstein in his Jan. 31 commentary about the “OscarsSo­White” controversy (“There are no winners in the latest kerfuffle over Oscar choices”). He makes valid points and backs them up with facts and logic. His comment “it seems to me we should remain colorblind and reward artistic excellence without regard to race (or class, or creed or gender)” says it all. Kudos for putting in into words much better than I could have.

I’m sure there are a lot of people who agree with Goldstein’s opinion but are reluctant to speak up for fear of sounding racist. Perhaps those who have their panties in a twist on this issue could be practicing reverse discrimination?

Joanie Stene, Dayton

 

GRAIN BELT SIGN

A legal ad for a legal product, so relight it in good conscience

I’d like to remind the Feb. 5 letter writer who lamented the planned relighting of the riverfront Grain Belt sign in Minneapolis because of all the lives destroyed by alcoholism that alcohol is legal. Beer vendors have a right to advertise their products. Just because thousands of people die in car crashes every year doesn’t mean that Ford can’t put out big ads for its latest vehicles. Everything on the marketplace should be used responsibly. Now let’s light up that sign, Minneapolis!

Ryan Bolin, Minneapolis