By Drew Olson Special to Published Jan 02, 2010 at 3:49 PM
Perhaps the dawn of a new year has me thinking about big-picture topics. Maybe it's the cold weather that has me mixing sports with "real" news. Maybe it's the fact that I'm sitting 10 feet in front of the Marquette pep band and my head is throbbing.

In any event, I can't help thinking about the scene today at the Bradley Center, where the Golden Eagles are hosting Villanova in the Big East opener.

I'm watching thousands of mostly white fans cheering for a group of mostly black players in their late teens and early 20s. There is nothing noteworthy about that; it happens at college arenas across the country.

But, it got me thinking about what's happening at Bayshore Town Center.

Yesterday, Bayshore enacted a weekend curfew for teenagers. For the first three weeks of the year, the mall has decreed that youths ages 17 and under can't stay in the public spaces of the mall after 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, unless accompanied by a parent of legal guardian aged 21 and over. One adult may accompany up to four youths.

"We are very pleased with the way the surrounding communities have embraced Bayshore as a true community gathering place," Bayshore general manager Chris Jaeger said in a statement.

"We have been closely monitoring traffic and behavioral trends over the past year and identified the need to make adjustments to our existing policies to accommodate these trends and ensure we remain a family-friendly, positive and welcoming environment for all of our guests."

You know what this means, don't you?

A bunch of black teenagers gathered at the mall and scared the bejeezus out of a bunch of mostly-white shoppers. Apparently, things came to a head last Saturday, when large groups of teens descended on an already crowded mall. Some of the kids may have been acting inappropriately. Some may have seemed menacing. Some may even have broken the law. I wasn't there, so I can't say exactly what went down.

Officials at the mall responded by instituting the curfew, which was totally within their rights and based on local precedent.

The same thing happened two years ago at Mayfair Mall, which its Parental Guidance Required (PGR) program. When that happened, a lot of folks -- in the media and the community at large -- figured that Wauwatosa's mall was headed the way of Capitol Court and Northridge.

I drove past Mayfair today and... let's just say it was pretty busy.

Though some Bayshore retailers may complain, I would guess that the impact on sales is not going to be significant. Given that this event happened during the holidays, it hasn't received a lot of attention from the media. Come Monday, the news talk stations will probably tee it up and predict gloom and doom for the mall and the state of race relations in the city.

When that happens, I'll think about how tough it is to be a teenager these days and how folks who cheer a bunch of college athletes at a basketball game might experience fear upon encountering the same young men at a shopping center.

Having a curfew at a mall may streamline the shopping experience and make all kinds of business sense.

But, I think there are bigger issues in play here. They've been around for some time and I don't think they're going away any time soon.

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.