That was our initial reaction when we heard the news that the Winthrop School Committee had voted to reject an offer by the Boston Red Sox organization to have the Revere-Winthrop Thanksgiving Day football game to be played at Fenway Park on Thanksgiving Eve.
To our knowledge, this marks the first time that a School Committee anywhere, at any time has deprived their student-athletes of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play an athletic contest at Fenway Park.
The majority of members of the Winthrop School Committee (and for the record, we are not sure why the Winthrop School Committee even was involved in this issue because school committees are not supposed to interfere in the day-to-day operations of their school districts) said that they want the Revere game to be played at Winthrop’s new Miller Field, which, they said, should be ready for its first-ever game by Thanksgiving Day.
That certainly is a nice thought, especially because the Winthrop team has played all of its games on the road the past two seasons while Miller Field undergoes a total renovation (similar to what Revere did with Harry Della Russo Stadium two years ago).
But as nice as the new Miller Field will be, the bottom line is that it is just another turf field, no different or better than all of the other turf fields that have been installed in area high school facilities and on which Winthrop teams have been playing for many years.
On the other hand, none of the present student-athletes on the Revere and Winthrop grid teams ever have had — or ever will have — the experience of playing on the grass at Fenway Park.
Affording our student-athletes such an opportunity should have been a proverbial no-brainer, in our estimation, as no doubt it was in the mind of House Speaker Bob DeLeo, who personally made an effort to make such a momentous event happen for his Winthrop and Revere constituents.
Revere officials also did their part to make it happen by offering that next year’s game — which in theory would have been played in Revere — would be played in Winthrop if this year’s contest was played at Fenway. We are upset further that the feelings of the Revere side — who wanted to play at Fenway — were not taken into account. Although Revere and Winthrop may be rivals on the gridiron, in reality they are partners in the educational and athletic development of our student-athletes.
To be sure, we understand that there are adults in the Winthrop community who put a lot of time and effort into the renovation of Miller Field (and by the way, Speaker DeLeo was instrumental in obtaining the funds from Massport for the project) and that they have some understandable pride in wanting to show off their hard work. It also is clear that some of the Winthrop players preferred to play at the new Miller Field if it is ready.
But here’s the real “kicker,” so to speak — Miller Field will not be ready for the game and contingency plans have been made with Revere officials to play the game at Harry Della Russo Stadium if Miller Field is not ready to be accepted by the Town of Winthrop in time for the game. Further, Winthrop officials could be accepting huge liability issues by rushing into a formal acceptance of the field, as was made clear by Town Manager Terrence Delahanty.
The vote of the Winthrop School Committee deprived both the Revere and Winthrop players and cheerleaders of an athletic experience that they would have been able to recall for their children and grandchildren for the rest of their lives.
In our opinion, it was a bad decision to take that away from both teams.