Thumbs up to the Southern Illinois University softball team for earning a berth in the NCAA tournament. The Salukis appeared to be on the fast track to the postseason, putting together a late postseason run that included a number of dramatic late-inning comebacks. However, SIU hurt its chances with a semifinal loss to UNI in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. That loss left the Salukis at the mercy of the NCAA selection committee. Fortunately, the NCAA put a lot of weight into SIU’s impressive resume and the Salukis play the University of Louisville today at Evanston. The softball team’s selection caps an outstanding spring for SIU’s athletic program. Both the men’s and women’s golf teams earned NCAA berths and both track teams are coming off excellent performances in the Missouri Valley Conference track meets.

Thumbs down to the closing of 710 Bookstore. Generations of SIU students have felt at home shopping for textbooks and SIU paraphernalia at the store. Unfortunately, the closing of the store reflects the difficulty brick and mortar retail establishments are having in today’s digital world. And, we’re afraid it’s also a reflection of today’s aversion to actual books. Obviously, digital platforms are capable of providing the same information, but many people still find a calming satisfaction in turning the pages of a tangible object. 710 had been a staple of the Carbondale business community for more than 50 years.

Thumbs down to Rep. Mike Zalewski’s proposal to allow sports betting windows at major league baseball parks. We’re not opposed to sports betting in general, but putting betting windows in major league venues sends the wrong signal on a number of levels. The ballpark has long been a bastion of family entertainment. That may or may not be a façade, but can’t there be someplace where families can take refuge for the realities of today’s society? And, given the position professional sports take regarding athletes betting on games, on-site betting sends mixed messages. Besides, there will be plenty of other venues to place bets.

Thumbs down to the possibility that criminal charges might not be filed against James Wilson, the former long-time direction of the Alexander County Housing Authority. Wilson used his position to live a lavish lifestyle and take junkets to Las Vegas and other vacation destinations, all while allowing thousands of people under his jurisdiction to live in squalor. “We believe the HUD complaint and resulting civil settlements provided a just resolution to serious allegations of gross mismanagement at the Alexander County Housing Authority,” said a spokesman for Steven Weinhoeft, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District. If it were just a matter of diverting money for personal use, we might agree. But, Wilson’s actions adversely affected thousands of people, people who had nowhere to turn. If there is a book with guidelines how someone in Wilson’s position should be punished, that book should be thrown at him.

Thumbs up to the thousands of young men and women who are graduating from Southern Illinois University, local community colleges and the region’s high schools this week. First, congratulations for your achievements. To the high school grads, you are facing some of the most critical decisions of your life. Are you going to continue your education? Will you seek a career in the military? Will you pursue a trade? There is no overall right answer. You are the only person capable of making that decision for yourself. It hardly seems fair at your age, but the decisions you have recently made or will make in the next few weeks will set a path for your life’s journey. To the recent college grads, good luck in the job market. Hopefully, your degree can help you find a job that is personally rewarding and helps make our world a better place.

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