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Olson: Games could lead to more benefits

Fans are seen entering Huskie Stadium on Friday before the start of the Class 1A championship game in DeKalb between Downs Tri-Valley and Lena-Winslow.
Fans are seen entering Huskie Stadium on Friday before the start of the Class 1A championship game in DeKalb between Downs Tri-Valley and Lena-Winslow.

The IHSA football state championships turned what normally is a slow news week into anything but.

It’s exciting to finally see the weeks of planning and preparation and community awareness finally coming to fruition out at Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium.

There was a lot of work done, by IHSA Destination DeKalb Committee members including Tom Matya, Brad Hoey, Debbie Armstrong and Jerry Smith, along with many others.

Those four folks took some time out weeks ago to update us on how things were going and provided some appreciated help in our effort to put together the special section on the championships that appeared in Thursday’s Daily Chronicle.

People from so many different segments of the community pitched in. From DeKalb School District 428, where former athletic director Dan Jones helped gather signatures in support of NIU’s bid and Matya is school board president. Hoey is director of marketing and communications at NIU. Armstrong is director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. And Smith has had leadership roles in several community and charitable organizations.

Other businesses, local governments including DeKalb and Sycamore, and many others contributed as well. It is great to see how much can be accomplished when so many community members are rowing in the same direction.

The championships continue today with the final four championship games, and although the organizers and volunteers are no doubt laser-focused on those, it’s fair to ask: What if this is just a start?

It would be a great thing if this kind of cooperation could be duplicated to bring more events and visitors to the area, and more tourism dollars to our local economy.

When has the DeKalb area had a higher profile, either regionally or nationally? The Huskies football team is undefeated and making yet another run toward a berth in a BCS bowl game, Huskie Stadium is hosting high school football players and fans from around the state, and the broadcasts of those games include multiple commercials advertising DeKalb County, the city of DeKalb and others.

This has been a period of remarkable exposure, and so far, so good. Here’s hoping it can help NIU attract future students, or football recruits. Maybe businesspeople will consider the area if they’re looking to expand.

If we could add another annual “big event” to the local calendar, we’d really be on a roll.

Shop when, where you want: Thanksgiving came too late this year, forcing us to cram all the traditional Christmas-holiday stuff into only 26 short days. If you celebrate Hanukkah, it was a double whammy.

Maybe that’s the reason that some local stores opened to shoppers the night of Thanksgiving this year, getting a jump on the Black Friday deals by several hours.

But don’t be surprised if more stores are open on Thanksgiving night in the future.  

That angers some people, who would like Thanksgiving to be sacrosanct, a day when everyone stays home for quality time with family, their dog, the TV, whatever.

Of course it’s never been that way. There’s an army of people who work on Thanksgiving at gas stations, airports, police stations and, yes, newsrooms. Some people are actually glad of the work, for whatever reason.  

More importantly, however, if shopping on turkey day was something people really didn’t want to do, the stores wouldn’t bother opening on Thanksgiving.

That’s the reason retailers aren’t open on Christmas. They realize it wouldn’t be worth it – not enough customers.

But the movie theaters are open. Restaurants, too. People want to eat out and see movies on Christmas. They also want gas for their cars and people to fly their airplanes and patrol the streets and so on.

As far as economics, we generally trust people to do what they consider to be in their best interest. If being part of a crush of shoppers at 4 a.m. Black Friday or 6 p.m. Thanksgiving makes sense to people economically, that’s what they’ll do. If others decide it makes sense to work in those jobs that night, they’ll do that, too.

I know a lot of people who like to hold forth about their opposition to big corporate retailers of any number of products, and the whole “ruining of Thanksgiving” fits neatly into that narrative.

Those people don’t trust the consumer. But Adam Smith did, and so should you.

Consumers must do what’s in their best interest, although that doesn’t always mean finding the lowest price.

Sometimes it involves keeping the money you spend in the hands of local merchants – hence the idea of calling today “Small Business Saturday.” Sometimes it means doing business with people who do business with you or your company. Sometimes it just means that you’re in a hurry and a store is in a convenient location.

I won’t tell you where or when to shop, dear readers. You know how best to spend your money – even better than the government does, I’ll wager.

That said: I’m with Pope Francis, who this week criticized the tyranny of “unfettered capitalism” and the “idolatry of money.” We should not allow “survival of the richest” to become a guiding principle of our society.

But those are moral failings, not systemic ones.

Our economic system works when you do what makes sense for you. And compared with the alternatives, capitalism remains the best option.

A big loss: The door to the BCS might have just swung wide for NIU again with Friday’s Fresno State loss at San Jose State.

They’ve got the Mid-American Conference title game against Bowling Green on Friday yet to go, but if they can get just one more win ... oh, my goodness.

Two big-time bowl games in a row would be amazing. Unheard-of in these parts. Stupefying.

We’ll be covering the run-up to Friday’s MAC championship game in Detroit all next week on and in the pages in the Daily Chronicle. After that, what? Jordan Lynch at the Heisman Ceremony? NIU at the Fiesta Bowl?

I don’t know, but I’m sure excited to find out.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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