In the 24 years we lived on the 100 block of Avenue C, a block and a half from Daylis Stadium, I loved hearing all the various sounds on game night.
There were the eruptions of cheering and the stamping of feet on the bleachers, the announcer with his updates on yards gained or lost, the pep bands with their bursts of inspiring, vaguely martial music.
With those memories in mind, I was a little skeptical when I heard that some of the stadium’s neighbors were up in arms over music supposedly blaring out of Daylis during football games and, even worse, during daily sessions of football practice. Had people just gotten too sensitive since I’d moved away from Avenue C four years ago?
Then I went and stood at the corner of Third Street West and Avenue B during a Friday night game a few weeks ago, just across the street from the bleachers on the east side of Daylis Stadium.
The roar of the crowd sounded familiar, as did the pep band, and if the announcer was a bit louder than I remembered, well, a new sound system had been installed over the summer, along with a new scoreboard and video display.
Then, for the first time, I heard the recorded music, and I knew after listening to it for about 15 seconds that if I lived anywhere near where I stood, I would find it — to use the words of some of the neighbors I subsequently interviewed — outrageous and intolerable.
I hope the story I wrote was fair. My calls to School District 2’s athletic director and its facilities director were not returned, but I talked to School Superintendent Terry Bouck three or four times in the course of a couple of weeks.
After the first time we talked, Bouck told me he’d be attending a game that weekend, and he told me afterward that he really didn’t think the recorded music was all that loud. It may be that in the stadium, with fans packed into the stands and caught up in all the excitement, the music wasn’t objectionable.
But I also knew, based on what I’d heard, that if you lived on the 200 block of Avenue B, or anywhere else in the vicinity of Daylis Stadium, you wouldn’t think of relaxing with your friends or family on your front steps, or at a picnic table in the back yard, during a game or practice, at least not if you intended to carry on a conversation.
Bouck mentioned more than once — and the same thing was said by commenters on Last Best News’ Facebook page — that Daylis Stadium has been there for 80 years. Meaning, of course, that anyone who lives near the stadium has no right to complain.
But every neighbor I talked to who objected to the noise repeated what I said about living near Daylis for 24 years — that they either enjoyed or had learned to live with the cheering, the bands and the occasional announcement.
The new sound system changed everything. It is now outrageously, intolerably loud, and this fall the neighbors had to listen to music blaring from the new sound system four days a week during football practice, at least a couple of hours every day, and then for three-plus hours on game nights.
You’d think parents and coaches would welcome the chance to have a bunch of young athletes finally take a break from their electronic devices. Instead, when they should be concentrating on football, they are being stimulated — or assaulted — by music streaming out of a gigantic electronic device paid for by businesses who then advertise on school property.
To turn around the statement mentioned above: if football players and spectators at Daylis Stadium thrived and apparently enjoyed themselves without extremely loud music for 79 years, why is it suddenly something they apparently can’t live without?
This goes beyond Daylis Stadium and School District 2. At what point did we became a nation of morons that requires electronic stimulation in every public setting?
I don’t know whether it’s a cause or an effect, but I don’t think it’s going too far to say that loud and ceaseless stimulation has something to do with the current state of faction and bad blood in this crazy country we live in.
The solution seems so simple: turn the music down on game nights and turn it off during practice. Players, coaches, fans and neighbors: Couldn’t we all use a little more calm, and a little more quiet?