The Uproar

Turf Wars

There appears to be a pecking order regarding which teams can gain access to which facilities

photo by Nate Stetson

photo by Nate Stetson

Hailey Wachowiak, Reporter

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If you’re on a fall sports team, then you know how infuriating it is when your team is banished to the grass fields. Turf, of course, is ideal for weather issues, safety, versatility, and preparation — not to mention that practicing on grass fields slows the game down.  From my perspective as a Field Hockey player, it seems that the likelihood of securing turf for practice varies depending on your sport.

I understand that football does bring in a lot of revenue and recognition for the school. However, all fall sports teams want to be treated equally when it comes to practice times and field availability. There have been instances when football has overstayed on practice times, postponing other teams’ practices and, in some cases, games. It appears that the Athletic Department continues to permit this inequality — or perhaps the department is unaware. This also has happened in the weight room during the spring athletic season. It’s difficult not to conclude that, for whatever reason, football takes priority here.

With its jumbotron, 3D tiger, and pristine turf, Newman Stadium is nice enough for now”

But my focus here is on the turf, which is occasionally rented out to non-high-school sporting events, causing other teams to miss practices or be sent to grass. At first glance, it might seem that this is a small concern.  Why can’t a team just be happy to have a place to practice?  Unfortunately, there have been instances when my own team has been sent to the grass field and somebody has gotten concussed or suffered a sprain. For my sport, grass field days have now become conditioning days, due to the risk of being hit by a ball on bumpy surfaces. Additionally, the Athletic Office last year would put us on the grass fields before a game and inadvertently caused our performance to be off the next day.

For field hockey, grass fields are a death sentence. On grass, you cannot perform moves at the speed or ability that you can on turf. Also, we are driving the ball at one other at great speed, so when there are divots, it becomes a serious hazard for the athletes.

This raises the question of why a school as large as North Allegheny has only one turf field. Last school year, the Post-Gazette published a list of local schools’ student populations. With the exception of the city district, NA tops the list by about 300 students — yet we only have one turf field. Fox Chapel’s enrollment is 700 students fewer than NA’s, but it has two turf fields. Seneca Valley, which is close in size to NA, also has more than one turf field. Upper St. Clair even has a middle school turf field.

As the PG additionally reported on July 5, 2018, NA’s plans to introduce additional turf field were placed on hold.  But now that the fall season is here, the Athletic Department has not done enough to address the poor conditions of the grass fields on which they are insisting that the other sports practice.

It seems that the only fair solution to this problem is to increase the number of turf fields and the amount of equipment to treat all sports equally.  NA is a large district with a a large tax base, and it’s no secret that we take great pride in our sports teams. We have many teams that, despite the lack of turf time, are very successful.

With its jumbotron, 3D tiger, and pristine turf, Newman Stadium is nice enough for now.  If it can’t be available for all sports in a fair way, then we should be prioritizing the improvement of other district fields.

 

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Turf Wars