New Prague given second chance

Decision allows opportunity for growth


Maren Wilsey

This past winter and spring Park dealt with a highly publicized conflict over the racist actions of New Prague High School’s athletic teams. Our school wasn’t the only victim of their actions, but we led the movement to suspend all competition with New Prague for the rest of the year. As fall sports begin their seasons, Park teams look ahead to a schedule that once again includes New Prague. 

As a varsity soccer player, this prospect worries me. Soccer is a sport where words can easily be muttered between two players without anyone else realizing. It also is a sport where tempers can flare suddenly, even from those who are ordinarily level-headed. With those two factors in mind, the environment for a similar incident to last winter’s seems just a little too ripe. Even at my JV game against New Prague last year, I remember my parents mentioning the negative attitudes of the parents on the sidelines. That, coupled with the events of last winter, is enough to make anyone wary. 

All this being said, I’m aware that our athletic department wouldn’t have made this decision unless they felt sure it was a good idea. The decision last winter wasn’t intended to be a permanent one, but to show New Prague that Park wouldn’t tolerate their behavior. Since then, it’s important to recognize efforts have been made to move forward and reform. New Prague has made a plan to educate not just the offending sports teams but the entire district community. Beyond that, Minnesota educational leaders met to ensure safety at athletic events statewide. My hope is that all these things will prevent harmful incidents in the future. 

Cancel culture is unfortunately a very real thing in our lives. It’s an unproductive societal mindset that doesn’t allow room for real growth to ever occur. New Prague’s actions last year were unacceptable in every way — there’s no question about it. However, it’s unrealistic to expect us to never play them again. They say they’ve changed, so now we’ll see for ourselves. I’m an optimistic person so I want to believe that they have, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think we should be cautious. We can give them another chance — now we wait and see what they choose to do with it.