Every once in a while, there comes a column which addresses a number of issues in smaller sections.

This is one of those columns.

I’ll start with a welcome to our new intern, Erin (Neier) Unerstall. You may have noticed her byline in last weekend’s paper.

Erin is helping us this fall from Southeast Missouri State, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Capaha Arrow last year and as sports editor.

If you recognize the name, you’ve read our paper for some time. Erin was a multisport athlete at Union High School and her father is longtime UHS basketball and track coach Steve Neier.

She will be covering a variety of events for us during the fall semester and I’m confident she will do a solid job.

Junk the Jamborees

For years, high school football teams enjoyed one little edge over everyone else with the ability to play a preseason scrimmage event one week before the start of the fall season.

Those basically replaced the old intrasquad soap scrimmages (called that for what usually was the price of admission) which the fans could attend to see their favorite team in action.

But this year, everyone else is getting in on the action. We’ve got jamborees in soccer, softball and volleyball. And next year will be even crazier when the fall sports practices will go a week earlier for heat acclimatization purposes.

While these preseason events either will make coaches feel better or more insecure, depending on how their teams do, is there enough to really make these events worthwhile?

I know a lot of coaches like the preseason events right now, but it’s going to take only one significant injury to change some minds.

After all, the football teams will play at least 10 weeks in a row while the volleyball, softball and soccer teams will play many more games than that during the season. I say that’s enough games for everyone. Maybe it would be best for our MSHSAA friends to just say no to preseason events and tell the teams to just play their interscholastic events during the regular season.

Football Follies

It’s my hypothesis that we’re going to find out exactly how popular the National Football League is this season.

During the offseason, the league instituted a new policy on what can and can’t be carried into games. Basically, whatever you’re bringing into the Edward Jones Dome has to fit into a 1-gallon clear Ziploc bag, or something similar. And that led to incidents at Saturday’s preseason home opener for the St. Louis Rams.

The policy is not very popular among the fans, judging on how loudly they booed the announcement during the game.

My message to the fans would be to show restraint until everyone gets things down. This isn’t the Rams making the policy. The league has set the new rules and the Rams are forced to follow them.

I knew this was going to be an issue before the game and made sure I had my press ID visible since I need my backpack to carry my camera gear to the dome. I know the other media members who are working the games are in the same situation with laptops or cameras.

I got hassled multiple times within a block of the dome for my bag, despite having the press tags. And I know I wasn’t alone.

In the short term, this won’t hurt the NFL. Season tickets have been paid for. It could hinder renewals next year, although I think if a person decides going to the games is too much of a hassle, they’ll probably turn around and buy the game packages on television.

It will be very interesting to see what the long-term ticket impact to pro football is though.

What Are the Odds?

Two different members of the Kriete family brought home balls from last Thursday’s St. Louis Cardinals baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But how they did it is rather odd.

Connor Kriete, who is entering his freshman year at Borgia this fall, caught a home run ball while his father, Allen, caught a foul ball later in the game, while sitting in a different section on the opposite side of the field.

With 41,502 fans at the afternoon contest, the odds must have been astronomical that they would leave the game with two game balls.

More Soccer Thoughts

I’m sure many of you read my initial thoughts on the Real Madrid-Inter Milan match at www.emissourian.com.

I think it was amazing for the St. Louis Visitors & Convention folks to have brought in a second match of big-time European teams this summer and that’s a major accomplishment. It’s obvious that folks in this region will come to see the world heavyweights play exhibition matches in Downtown St. Louis venues.

I’m sure St. Louis will remain a top destination for the big clubs in the future as a match here is a guaranteed payday.

But what’s the point? Is this a one-off deal every year? If that’s the case, everything’s fine as is.

The people will continue to come to see teams such as Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Inter Milan play the game in St. Louis. These are the teams and players you see on television in league matches or at the World Cup. As long as they draw the fans, we’ll see the summer matches.

But if the goal is something more, then there are a variety of questions to ask. One would assume that gauging the interest for the past two matches would energize someone who might look to place a professional team in St. Louis.

Of course, the big stumbling block is a venue capable of hosting such a team. It doesn’t exist right now. The Edward Jones Dome is too big and they’re not going to let a soccer team play a full home slate at Busch Stadium.

Should such a stadium (seating somewhere in the vicinity of 20,000 or more fans) be built, it’s possible that a professional team, most likely in Major League Soccer, would be persuaded to locate itself here.

Should the stadium issue sort itself out, I think pro soccer could thrive in the St. Louis market. I believe pro soccer is much more viable than pro basketball in St. Louis.