I’m proud to be associated with The St. Louis Blues.
Like most St. Louisans I was sorry to see their dreams of retaining The Stanley Cup shattered in The Bubble in Edmonton. I too was incredulous that they lost all six games in which they wore their blue sweaters as the nominal “home” team. It definitely wasn’t easy to watch the third period of game six against Vancouver, which the Canucks won so handily. Nevertheless, what happened next made me very proud.
One of the finest traditions in sports is that of players on a losing hockey team lining up to congratulate the team that has just eliminated them from the playoffs. I loved watching this last year when players on opposing teams lined up to congratulate the Blues. Even in Boston, where losing game seven on home ice had to be especially disappointing, the Bruins were sincere in congratulating the upstart Blues on winning their first Stanley Cup.
And so, I was proud of the unhesitating way in which the Blues honored this tradition and individually congratulated the Canucks, who were sending them home early. It was a display of class that teams in other sports would do well to emulate.
Outside The Bubble and closer to home, our new soccer team finally has a name: St. Louis City SC, a perfect complement to Hop In The City, our annual beer festival just across the street. Alert readers (ARs) who have not yet seen the construction site of the new stadium ought to do so. City’s new home in the heart of the City is indeed impressive.
Turning our attention to another sport, on campuses all across America college football is returning without college. Administrators have apparently concluded that it’s safe for student-athletes to play football, but it’s not safe for them (or any other students for that matter) to go to class, and it’s also not safe in most cases to play sports that don’t generate revenue for their universities.
In case any ARs doubted for a moment the importance of football on college campuses, I would remind them of what happened at The University of Missouri in 2015. Players on the football team, supported by their coach, threatened to go on strike unless the Chancellor of the Columbia campus and the President of the university system resigned. The players got their way and the team finished the season with an overall record of 5-7 and a record within the Southeastern Conference of 1-7. One can only imagine how much power could have been wielded by a team with a winning record.
With the cancellation of most non-revenue sports, most extracurricular activities and most in-person classes, college students theoretically have more time for reading. Theoretically. With that assumption, I’m recommending two books written by ARs I’ve known over a half century. A Universe Less Traveled is a novel by Eric von Schrader, who grew up down the street from me. In it he imagines an alternate universe superimposed on present-day St. Louis. As the lead character slips back and forth between the two versions of St. Louis, von Schrader contrasts the reality we all know with his dream of what the city and region might have become.
Alone Against Hitler by Jack Bray is the story of Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg’s heroic efforts to prevent the Nazis from taking over his homeland. Bray, a lawyer in Washington, DC, received his undergraduate and law degrees from St. Louis University, where von Schuschnigg was on the faculty after World War II. Von Schrader’s novel (of which I read an advance copy) and Bray’s history have both been part of my COVID reading and would be of particular interest to ARs in St. Louis.
As lots of students are probably feeling understandable anxiety about missing out on a full college experience because of COVID, I’d like to offer some consolation. In Missouri at least, it’s possible to achieve very high levels of success without a college education. The only U.S. President in the 20th or 21st century who did not go to college was from Missouri. Today, the two highest elected officials in state government in Missouri –Governor and Lieutenant Governor—did not go to college. Among all 50 states Missouri alone has this distinction. The lesson would appear to be that missing out on college because of COVID is less of a hindrance to success in Missouri than anywhere else.
Governor and Lieutenant Governor are among the hundreds of offices for which ARs will be casting votes on November 3rdor earlier. Without predicting who any of the winners will be, I can say with confidence and sadness that a significant portion of the electorate will not accept the legitimacy of any election in which their candidate did not prevail. Before a single ballot has been cast, the two major parties are already trading accusations of voter fraud, voter suppression, foreign hacking and lots of other misconduct. This state of affairs inspires me to suggest that American politicians take a cue from the National Hockey League. Can you imagine a scenario in which the losers of elections from either party would demonstrate the same civility and graciousness as players on losing teams in the NHL playoffs? Actually congratulating the winners instead of pouting for weeks, months or years?
Neither can I.
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery