Newbie sent us an e-mail just before we headed out to cover a football game yesterday. Let's have a look at it now:
Tonight's H.S. football match-up between Bloomington Kennedy and Bloomington Jefferson has moved to Burnsville stadium. Because the field conditions are too poor. There has also been a lot of talk about bringing in an artificial surface. I remember many matchups of these teams taking place in the mud and turning into some fun football games to watch.
In your experience, do you think high school sports are different when played on different surfaces? Does it really make a difference at that level? Do some of the "bigger" high schools around the country use turf and does it better prepare the athlete for college? Since the state tournament is played in the dome, do some schools that play on turf in the regular season have an advantage?
Good questions, sir. Let's try to tackle them (screen grab, by the way, of a video we did with DeLaSalle's Reggie Gandy after the Islanders' 22-18 victory over Minnehaha Academy in the muck Wednesday afternoon).
To a degree, yes, high school sports are different when played on different surfaces. There was a ton of slipping and sliding at the game we saw yesterday. Then again, it was also kind of fun to see a bunch of muddy jerseys. It was a throwback game. The kids got into it; the game had a fantastic back-and-forth tempo and a dramatic finish. It probably would have been a different game on turf, though it wouldn't have guaranteed more offense; Minnetonka beat Wayzata 3-0 in overtime on turf last night.
Turf -- and we're not talking about the old-school turf that used to be in the dome, we're talking about the good synthetic grass type -- is becoming a lot more prevalent in the metro area and around the nation. While it might not be quite as aesthetically pleasing and has a significant up-front cost, the multi-purpose use cannot be denied. Football, soccer and lacrosse at all levels can be played on one field without chewing it up.
Metro teams that regularly played on turf 10 years ago had a bigger advantage than teams now, in our opinion, because a great number of the big-school teams that reach the semifinals in the Dome now have played a good number of games on turf already by the time they get here.
That said: the game yesterday afternoon was a lot of fun. We'd like to see every team get to experience the muck at least once a season just to know what it's like.
Anyone else have thoughts on the matter?