Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Cube could be melting attendance at high school sporting events

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Editor's Notebook

COLOR - Jeff  The sweaty people crammed in the stands probably didn’t notice.
  The folks watching all along the fences likely didn’t notice either.
  Oh, and those people who had to walk what seemed like endless miles from their car to the stadium probably weren’t aware either.
  Last Friday’s huge non-conference football tilt between Brother Rice and Marist drew about 4,000 fans at Marist. Not a bad crowd. One guy parking cars on the campus called it a “zoo.’’
  But the zoo was missing some animals.
  Marist officials said that two years ago, they put a limit of 5,000 tickets on sale for the game and thousands of more people who wanted to see the game were angry they were shut out. This year, 1,000 tickets were unsold.
  Some in Redhawk Nation say that High School Cube is the reason for the dropoff.
  High School Cube is a website that broadcasts sporting events and other high school happenings on the internet and has become a major player in broadband circles. It’s been around for a couple of years and has made an impact.
  When the broadcasts are done right, it’s a brilliant concept. When they aren’t…well…watching someone else’s home movies might be more thrilling.
  On a given night, a football or basketball fan can stay home with a computer or phone and have the choice of watching dozens of games either in Illinois or other parts of the nation. If your kid is playing football at Stagg and the game is on the Cube, Uncle Elmer in Idaho, grandpa in Florida or a cousin in the military stationed in the Middle East can watch the kid run for touchdowns live or watch a broadcast later.
  And that’s very cool.
  However, some of the concern I heard at Marist Friday night is stuff I started to hear from folks during the football playoffs last year and during the basketball season. People are staying home and watching the Cube rather than coming out to the games.
  High school sports attendance dropoff has been a topic for decades. In the 1960s and 70s, the blame was that more kids were getting jobs and cars and didn’t have time to watch their school’s sports. In recent years, kids’ addictions to video games received the blame.
  Now, it’s the Cube.
  I don’t think the Cube went into this venture saying “Let’s take attendance away from live games’’ but it appears that the technology is causing some of the downturn. Technology is also blamed for hurting pro sports including NASCAR and Major League Baseball. People buy high-definition TVs that make you feel like you are right on the field and may not want the hassle of actually being at the game, paying for parking and 10 bucks for a cup of beer.
  Look, 4,000 people at a Marist/Rice game isn’t a small figure, but if a thousand more fans stayed away, that’s some significant money that is not coming its way.
  And whether it’s Cube or any of the other reasons attendance is taking a hit, the ball is in the schools’ court to try to drum up some more interest to get those people out of their houses and back into the stadiums and gyms.
  It’s a tough war technology is presenting. Just ask anyone in the newspaper business.

The Marian kind

  Also over the weekend, St. Xavier’s football team, ranked fourth in the nation, erased a 14-point deficit and beat defending NAIA champion Marian 31-24 in overtime.
  The second half was thrilling.
  It was nail-biting.
  The overtime was dramatic.
  The postgame emotions after the OT were running wild.
  It lived up to the hype as a battle between the past two national champions.
  Marian played one of the dumbest games I have seen in a long time. The squad from Indiana was whistled 16 times for 139 penalty yard. These guys took themselves out of drives and kept St. X drives going with late hits, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, leading with their helmets and a huge facemask penalty that hurt them during St. Xavier’s game-tying drive late in regulation.
  That team has a lot of talent but didn’t deserve to win the game.
  But in the long run, that might not hurt. In 2011, Marian won the regular-season meeting and St. Xavier won the national championship. In 2012, St. X won the regular-season hookup and Marian went on to win the national title.

‘Worth’ while winners

  The last of our winners from a drawing in August during our subscription drive in Worth were presented with tickets to “Next to Normal.”
  Winners were Robert Wagner, Mary Ann Aldrich, Edward Zajac, Elaine Johnson, Sharon Reinheimer, S.J. Gloede, Rose Marie Kunz, William Nilles, Joan E. Zoel and Patricia J. Schultz.

  In last week’s column on area tollway scofflaws, I forgot to mention that the state’s No. 11 company on the list, Excel Waterproofing, is from Chicago Ridge.


Citizen urges Palos Hills to bring Carson & Barnes Circus back

  • Written by Kevin M. Coyne


  Carson & Barnes Circus was3-col-color-elephantsPETA says that the Carson & Barnes Circus abuses elephants but some Palos Hills officials say that wasn’t the case in August when the circus was in town. Photo by Kevin M. Coyne under immense fire after animal rights group PETA urged city officials to cancel the circus last month.

  Carson & Barnes Circus rolled through Palos Hills last month despite an uproar from animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleging that circus animals are being abused during training sessions.
  Carson & Barnes was criticized for a 15-year-old video posted by PETA that featured an elephant trainer abusing one of the circus’s many elephants during a private training session. The video is published on PETA’s website and is used to persuade city officials to cancel negotiations with Carson & Barnes Circus.
  Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said he has no recollection of the circus abusing its animals and in the six years the circus has come to Palos Hills there have been no reports of animal abuse. Carson & Barnes held its shows for three nights in Palos Hills in August without incident.
  Despite the incident-free shows performed by Carson & Barnes reports have spread that city officials will pull the plug on Carson & Barnes for next year.
  Claudia Pasek, of Palos Hills, spoke during last Thursday’s city council meeting and urged elected officials to reconsider canceling the circus for next year. Pasek and her husband Palos Hills, Alderman AJ Pasek, have both attended the Carson & Barnes Circus and have found no wrongdoing.

  “There has been a lot of push back about the circus from the PETA organization and I think PETA is a very good organization that has raised a lot of awareness for animal abuse but I don’t think they’ve ever been to the circus,” Pasek said.

  PETA has alleged that abuse is the only way to get circus animals to perform painful and unnatural tricks. Pasek referenced the Carson & Barnes website for elephant training and how the circus has donated funds to benefit Asian elephants.
  “This circus is 80 percent people acts and these people are awesome, they are like Cirque du Soleil or like the people you see in Vegas and they are incredibly talented people,” Pasek said. “They’re doing most of the work and the animals are there for 20 percent of the time.”

  PETA posted on Facebook that the Carson & Barnes performers are trashy who beat and exploit animals, Pasek said.
  “Everything there is inexpensive and family-orientated and that is why there are so many people there from Worth, Hickory Hills, Palos Hills, Tinley Park and Orland Park,” she said. “I want to emphasize that the circus is mostly extremely talented people and the animals are not exploited during the circus act.”


Hickory Hills man fends off ruse burglars

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A Hickory Hills man believes he was set up for a ruse burglary Aug. 13 by a man who claimed he was doing concrete work at a neighbor’s house, police said.

  The incident occurred in the 9300 block of 83rd Avenue at 6:10 p.m. when the man knocked on his door and asked to come inside. The resident would not let the man enter but asked what he needed, according to reports.
  The man said he needed the homeowner to move things that were in his driveway. The resident said he would move the items at a later time, police said. The offender again asked to come inside to use a pen and paper. The homeowner had a pen and paper with him and offered it to the man at the door, according to reports.
  The offender wrote his phone number on the piece of paper, which led the homeowner to suspect he was being setup for a ruse burglary, police said.
  The man then asked for water for his car, which the homeowner provided. He heard banging on the front door while he retrieved the water. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a woman who asked to come inside to get a glass of water and use the bathroom, police said.
  The homeowner agreed to get her a glass of water. When he returned the man and woman left in an SUV that was parked in a neighbor’s driveway. Nothing was missing from the house, police said.

Satan Disciples gang members arrested at Fall on the Green fest

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  Two admitted gang members and another man were arrested Friday on drug and weapons charges at Oak Lawn’s Fall on the Green festival, police said.

  Mohammed Ziko, 19, of Bridgeview; Andrew T. Miller, 22, of Harvey; both members of Satan Disciples, and Daniel J. Holdcroft, 21, of Worth, were arrested at 11 p.m. near the entrance of the Oak Lawn Library, police said.
  Police recognized the men, as they had spoken with them earlier in the evening at the fest, according to reports. The men said they were leaving the fest when they were stopped by police.
  Holdcroft was charged with unlawful use of a weapon, after he told police that he was carrying a knife, police said.
  Ziko and Miller were charged with possession of marijuana and drug equipment. Miller also was charged with intent to deliver marijuana, police said.
  Police said Miller placed something in a flower bed, which turned out to be a plastic bag containing marijuana and a pipe. He tried to walk away from police when they approached him.
  A police officer activated his taser and ordered Miller to the ground. He complied and was arrested. He was in possession of a digital scale.
  Ziko told police the marijuana and pipe belonged to him and he placed them in the flower bed, which led him to be arrested, police said.

Ridge man robbed by a couple of posers

  • Written by Bob Rakow

   A man was robbed Sept. 4 in Oak Lawn by two men posing as undercover police officers, police said.

  The Chicago Ridge man told police he was driving south in the 9500 block of Parkside Avenue at 8:50 p.m. when a dark-colored Chevrolet Tahoe cut him off, causing him to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision, according to reports.
  Two men got out of the SUV and walked toward the car, police said. They both were wearing dark polo shirts with shield or badges attached, leading the man to believe they were police officers, reports said.
  The men appeared to have bullet-proof vests under their shirts and wore belts with various gadgets attached. The victim did not recall if either man had a gun, police said.
  One of the men approached the driver’s side window and asked the driver for his driver’s license and registration, police said. The driver removed the items from his wallet, and the offender grabbed the wallet from his hand, according to police.
  Both men met at the front of the victim’s car for several seconds and then one of them returned to the car, returned the wallet, and told the driver, “You’re good to go.” The victim later realized that $47 was missing from his wallet.