The tragedy of no more blue balls

From spring of 2003 until my graduation in May 2006, I wrote many articles for several sections of my college newspaper, the Los Angeles Loyolan. Here's one of my Opinion articles.
The tragedy of no more blue balls

Mark J. Lehman
Assistant A & E Editor

Originally published November 3, 2004

LMU’s gymnasium and fitness center has just about anything in a modern gym that any student could want or need. For the bodybuilders, a wide array of weights, barbells and medicine balls. For the flexible folk, an eclectic assortment of yoga and pilates classes. For the sports stars, a large pool to do laps or play water polo, or a large basketball area and multi-purpose sports court, not to mention the popular intramural leagues. And for those lucky enough to know about them, two racquetball courts hidden deep in the bowels of Gersten Pavilion.

Unfortunately for the attendees of this fine institution, one of LMU’s best kept secrets has been secretly taken out of existence.

And for what, you ask? What could be more important than a rousing game of racquetball on a crisp November day? Why, more sports offices, of course!

This is what the administration at Gersten Pavilion says, at least. And while it might seem easy to point the finger at them, I’m certain it extends deeper, to some sort of budget cut or funding proposal rejection, forcing the sports people to colonize the wonderful yet relatively unknown courts. However, just because most students do not know about this special privilege afforded them, does this mean it is acceptable or reasonable to take this haven away from the students? To draw an analogy, if you possessed a bank account with $100 in deposits and you did not know about it, does that make it tolerable for someone to steal your $100? Clearly, the answer is “No!”

The first problem with this situation is simply the lack of awareness of the existence of these beautiful courts. Nowhere in the gym is there any sort of sign or reference to playing racquetball for free right here on this very campus. Walking through Burns Rec, I see not one poster or flyer proclaiming “Come enjoy a fast-paced game of intense, fat-burning racquetball—guaranteed to raise your heart rate as well as your level of happiness!” I ask the administration—if these racquetball courts are for the students, then why doesn’t anyone know anything about them? Even the employees at the Rec Center, when I have gone to borrow a racquet and a ball, often have to be shown where to find the equipment either by myself or by their manager. This is absolutely preposterous, and more than likely a major factor in the shutting down of the courts.

A second major issue I have is with the decision to simply abandon the courts and surrender them to the expansion of the sports offices. While I do not presume to say that sports offices are not important and that they should not be expanded, my main issue with this comes on the coattails of the recent news story about LMU’s brand new state-of-the-art fingerprinting technology for Burns Rec. As if this wasn’t enough of a colossal waste of money (not to mention ridiculous to have the system in place only at the Rec Center and only as a backup if you forgot your OneCard), it also took away funding which could more effectively have been spent in perhaps building some temporary sports offices or something to that effect. Certainly there could have been some way around this if only it had been thought through.

With all the hoopla over the election and the presidential race, it’s easy to dismiss this racquetball court crisis as something about which none should fret. I urge you, however, to take action. This, fellow students, is a matter of grave importance; an issue that affects us all, mentally, physically, spiritually and sometimes metaphysically. Each one of us needs to voice his or her opinion by marching right into Gersten Pavilion, going up the stairs to the sports offices, and telling them loudly, clearly and succinctly “Maybe I don’t play racquetball, but it’d still be darn nice if I could!”

The world, and LMU, would be a better place for it.
[Los Angeles Loyolan web site does not have archives available this far back.]
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