Volume 93, Issue 26

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Astro-nomically bad move by Western

Housing's intentions speak louder than words

Astro-nomically bad move by Western

Sports are filled with many traditions – specific ones belonging to teams and even the way a game is played. One custom which is dying this year at Western, is the use of natural turf in the football stadium.

The substitute for natural turf is Astroturf, but why?

The main reason given for the switch is that the groundwork is needed for the 2001 Canada Summer Games as they have specific events which require an artificial turf stadium. This seems like a sound rationale, but are we sacrificing our athletes for financial gain?

Artificial turf is well known for causing injuries. A perfect example is Michael Irvin, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, who hurt his neck when his helmet got caught on Astroturf at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia last Sunday. This was just the latest in what has been a rash of otherwise preventable injuries, which Astroturf had a hand in creating.

Many stadiums, like Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, with Astroturf or other forms of artificial turf are now switching back to natural grass, as athletes have become increasingly aware of the injury factor related to playing on the carpet.

In some cases athletes are even demanding to play on natural grass. Rumours have it that Barry Larkin, shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, is willing to pay the $1 million it would cost to switch Cinergy Field from artificial to natural turf.

The new stadium at Western is cited as being optimal for use by more teams than football – teams such as field hockey will be able to play home games next year.

The problem, however, is the number of teams which will suffer negative effects from the switch. For instance, in soccer, when a player goes for a slide tackle, they may suffer what can only be imagined as the worst carpet burn in the world.

The football team will have to adjust to the stadium as well. Those diving catches made by receivers and defensive backs will not be the same, as players may shy away form throwing themselves upon the Astroturf.

Artificial turf does not have the natural give which grass does. Natural turf is far more forgiving on the quick cuts needed to be made in both football and soccer.

Grass is also far more forgiving on the joints of players. If you cut the wrong way on artificial turf, there's the substantial risk of separating an ankle or blowing out a knee.

In their desire to generate more revenue, the administration has forgotten one essential aspect of Western athletics – the athletes.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999