Not what I expected

To the Editor:

Sunday’s JV soccer game in Westport vs. Ridgefield was not what I expected. We live in Ridgefield, so when we got an opportunity to watch our son play in Sunday afternoon’s game in Westport, we couldn’t wait. The season is getting underway, and our club is reaching out to other towns to play in some interleague games.

What I wasn’t prepared for, was the gang of Westport High Schooler’s hanging out at the field.

We have hosted soccer games and tournaments, and the goal is always the same — to host your invited guests to come see your team play in ‘our town’. Further, maybe the families stay and eat dinner, explore, and go home satisfied, no matter the outcome of a win or loss.

The ugly display Sunday was nothing short of what I would term bullying. Worse, the referees who seemed to know the group, did not engage the midfield Cobra-Kai’s to tone it down. The typical high school banter is to be expected, as my son laughed it off as ‘chirping’ (my generation would call it smack talk). What ensued, was way beyond anything a referee would ever tolerate from an over-engaged parent, and frankly, embarrassing.

It started as a player for Westport and, apparently their friend, ‘Walker’ was getting chirped from this gang of 8. They didn’t stop there. They started in on the Ridgefield players , naming each according to their jerseys and trying to engage them (ergo challenge). While the language wasn’t necessarily foul, it was very HGH aggressive, vulgar — and for that matter non-stop, extremely loud. The intent was to be heard across the field, and not just among themselves.

This is clearly a group of seniors engaging in their rite-of-passage and senior year victory lap —to which they are entitled. To a point…

The Ridgefield parents were all thinking the same thing. Some Westport parents actually laughed at their behavior. Strange.

At what point to the adult referees engage and quiet the gang? Finally, just before halftime, the referee asked the group the ‘Captain of your Rugby Team’s name’ as they were walking around the field to the player’s side. (In soccer this is not encouraged and indeed frowned upon). The group replied ‘Charlie’ and the referee at that point made a ham-handed attempt to tell them not to go around. Once.

So, Westport, do you allow the Captain of your Rugby team to go around town, exhibiting passive aggressive behavior, and call out whomever he chooses? Does this happen at school?

The simple fact he plays organized sports (rugby is not an easy endeavor), tells me he knows better and is a leader. The fact the referee apparently knew him, yet enabled him to continue, is also at odds.

I can categorically state a parent would have been quieted or escorted off the field for lesser offenses.

My son is 16 now, and of all the games I have witnessed over the course of the last decade — and there have been some salty ones — I have never seen this level of unsportsmanlike display from the sidelines.

School sponsored events should not allow this type of conduct, especially from the student body. Certainly not from a student leader within their athletic department. This was a school vs. school game, played on school property.

Referees are called upon to control the flow of play and the field conduct. This was a red card level event. Parents (myself included) owe a responsibility to say something. I did not, and that was an error on my part. This isn’t about a sore-loser situation either, as Ridgefield won, in spite of the palaver.

My wish is that nobody gets in trouble, yet lessons need to be taught — and learned. In the digital age, behavior and misconduct get documented, and posted all the time. Colleges, employers, (current and prospective) scrub the internet to vet candidates. The consequences can be swift, and life-altering.

My wife left and went to our car. Afterward, we went home to dine out — in Ridgefield.

L. Scott Ferguson


Where are you going?

To the Editor:

“Where are you going?”

It’s a question we’ve all been asked at some point in our lives.

It’s a question we’ve likely asked ourselves about our future plans.

It’s a question I asked of my brink-of-bankruptcy city five years ago when I was elected mayor.

It’s a difficult question to answer.

In the wake of multiple tax hikes, credit rating downgrades, and outmigration of residents and businesses, the same question must be asked of the State of Connecticut.

“Where is Connecticut going?”

I am running for governor to set our state on a more stable, positive and predictable course. My 10-point vision represents the path I will push our state toward as your next governor.

My vision is unique because my background is unique. As a young, female, fiscally conservative Republican chief executive of a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one, I have the skill set to get Connecticut’s economy growing again.

And my vision begins with establishing that connection. Let’s put the “connect” in Connecticut by maximizing the opportunities created by our location between New York and Boston. Imagine a fast, secure statewide internet system. A higher education system without bureaucratic bloat that moves toward more online learning. A state that keeps its young talent via tax incentives to get graduates to establish roots here.

My vision includes upgrading the housing stock in our cities and providing relief to crumbling foundation homeowners in eastern Connecticut. It celebrates the value of our economic backbone — small businesses and mom and pop shops — by incentivizing their growth.

My vision focuses on every aspect of state government by requiring agency heads to offer new ways to provide services. It embraces modern solutions to problems like the opioid crisis. It pursues the outsourcing of certain government functions, and commits to growing agricultural jobs and boosting family farms.

Addressing the state’s structural budget deficit will be my primary focus. The Stewart administration will bring pension and benefit costs in line with the private sector. We can do this. We must do this.

Check for details of my 10-point vision. I am proud of the work we have done to provide New Britain residents and businesses with a brighter future and an improved quality of life.

Erin Stewart

Mayor of New Britain

Republican Candidate for Governor

Tracking non-fatal opioid overdose

To the Editor:

Every non-fatal opioid overdose represents an opportunity to help curb Connecticut’s opioid crisis, but we know little about the number and location of such poisonings. By mandating confidential data collection for suspected prehospital opioid overdose, Senate Bill 511, An Act Concerning Opioids, aims to address this issue. Since 2012, Connecticut has witnessed a 400 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths, and the number of non-fatal overdoses is certainly greatly increased too. Targeting opioid interventions to groups and communities experiencing high rates of non-fatal overdose may prevent future deaths.

Yet just where, when, and how many Connecticut residents suffer a non-fatal opioid overdose is not known. Why? Connecticut lacks a unified emergency medical response reporting system, making the creation of a statewide public health database impossible. As both a health services researcher and a former volunteer firefighter, I know first-hand the importance of public health data to address the opioid epidemic, and I know how easily this data might be collected by Connecticut firefighters and EMTs. Other states, including Maryland, already use prehospital emergency medical reporting to obtain such information.

Many patients who receive the opioid antidote naloxone are addicted to opioids. After receiving naloxone, some will accept transport to their local emergency department, where they can be connected to care. Yet others, following naloxone revival, may refuse an ambulance ride and stay where they are, increasing their odds of another overdose, and perhaps death. We simply don’t know how many patients receive antidote treatment but refuse transport to a hospital. Studying these near misses will help public health officials target outreach efforts.

Collecting overdose information does come with risks. Opioid addiction is a stigmatizing disease, both for the individuals and the communities suffering from its effects. Maintaining individual confidentiality within a statewide reporting system is obviously essential. Emphasizing that this information is for public health planning, and for not law enforcement, will also be needed.

Understanding where and when prehospital opioid overdoses occur is necessary for providing effective community-based treatment for opioid use disorder. Senate Bill 511 will develop a statewide uniform data reporting system to capture data on opioid overdose, naloxone use, and opioid reversal outcome. The benefits of such a system are many, including the collection of essential public health data and the potential for real-time identification of opioid overdose outbreaks.

Support SB-511’s mandate for opioid overdose reporting. It’s time we get ahead of the curve.

John Allan McDougall Jr

Yale National Clinician Scholars Program / New Haven