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Letters to the Editors

Criticism of Tampa police at soccer bar a real low


© St. Petersburg Times
published June 30, 2002

In last Sunday's Highs and Lows, you said Tampa police were "lingering" outside Beef O'Brady's during the World Cup match against Mexico, waiting for 3 a.m. so they could "pounce" and charge the owners with "visible" alcohol. It was written as though these were the facts and suggested the police should better prioritize their actions.

The truth was the Tampa officers did not go to the bar until 3:45 a.m. At that time everyone in the bar was still drinking and had full pitchers of beer.

The owners said they stopped serving 45 minutes earlier. At that time the waitress was seen filling and serving another full pitcher of beer. The owners had been told two weeks earlier they couldn't serve alcohol after 3 a.m. during this event. They chose to ignore the law to make as much money as they could.

If the writers bothered to check facts, they would have found the affidavit charging the owners shows the time of the offense at 3:50 a.m. when they were still serving alcohol. Bars in Ybor are routinely cited for this offense. The owners of Beef O'Brady's knew they were in violation, but did not care. Using the excuse of a birthday party or a soccer match doesn't make a difference.

Real fans would have enjoyed the second half of the match just as much, without having to drink alcohol an hour before they drove home. The Times should be more responsible with checking facts and in the interpretation of the relationship between sports and alcohol.
-- Craig Roberts, Zephyrhills

Finally, respect for soccer

On behalf of the thousands of soccer fans in the Tampa Bay area, I would like thank the U.S. national team for its performance in the 2002 World Cup and your outstanding coverage of the tournament. I have long been a critic of the U.S. national team program and the St. Petersburg Times' coverage of the sport. You both proved me wrong this summer.

The final result against Germany doesn't matter. The Germans and the world that watched know the truth -- the Americans were the better team that day.

The game was the best performance by the U.S. national team since it beat England 1-0 before most of us were born. U.S. coach Bruce Arena proved again to be a winner -- giving America its new Boys of Summer.

I have worked in Tampa Bay soccer at the professional, youth and high school level 17 years -- most of that time spent trying to get you to write about it and the public to read about. The U.S. team did more for soccer in three weeks than I did sending hundreds of media releases for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tampa Bay Terror and Tampa Bay Extreme.

The American men playing on the field in South Korea not only earned the respect of the soccer playing world -- they earned the respect of a non-soccer watching nation.
-- Rui Farias, via e-mail

Rays' light getting dimmer

Vince Naimoli's time-worn expression that there will be a "light at the end of the tunnel" always brings to mind the outcome of our war in Vietnam. Will someone please enlighten Rays fans as to any successful acquisitions that Chuck LaMar has made?

If the Rays are now into his Plan C or D, I can only believe the light at the end of the tunnel will lead to a 1,000-foot drop-off before the bridge is built by somebody else. Good luck, and please wake up Vince before it's too late.
-- John R. Hahn, Gulfport

Autos section a winner

You did a good job on the Feb. 15 special section previewing the auto racing season. I have saved it and reach for it almost every Sunday for one reason or another. The schedule, articles and info is very good. Do it again. I don't like sports except for NASCAR, so anything on the subject in your sports section is welcomed.
-- Judy VanSickle, Holiday

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