Q&A with the SA Editors: March 28, 2000

Rick Worthen Edwardsville, Ill. My son's high school varsity soccer team shares the same field as the varsity football team. The football program wants the soccer team to play on another field. They contend the soccer players are harder on the field than they are. I find that hard to believe. Can you shed some light on this? Mike Woitalla: Indeed, Rick, we can shed some light on this. The kind of light that makes grass grow when big fat football players arenÆt blocking the sun. I wonÆt get too scientific about this, because that would make it difficult for the football people to understand. Fortunately, itÆs quite simple. First of all, football players are much, much heavier than soccer players, who tend to glide across the field while your average lineman digs his cleats into the tender turf as he wrestles his behemoth opponent. During football games or practice, large groups of players constantly convene on a small area of the field. Soccer teams scatter their players all over. Football players thump away down after down and dig away at the ground because it often takes a long, long time to move the football 20 or 30 yards. Soccer continually spreads the action around. True, the goal area of a soccer field can get worn down, but that can be easily remedied -- move the goals on different days of practice. Moreover, football players are clad in heavy equipment. Face masks get planted into the dirt after hard tackles and fierce blocks. Helmets pound the earth. Plus, just look at the numbers. At soccer practice, you probably have 20-some players out there, in addition to the head coach and a couple of assistants. At football practice, youÆve got more than 50 players and a coach for every aspect of the team. What about the ball? WeÆve got a nice round one. The football is a mean pointy thing that creates ugly potholes in grass. Finally, itÆs no coincidence that the football people -- not the soccer people -- have plagued our nation with artificial turf. Would the football faction have introduced and continued to advocate that offensive stuff if they didnÆt know their sport was the enemy of real grass? (If you have a question for a Soccer America Magazine editor, click "Q&A with SA Editors" in the left column of the home page under "Interactive.")
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