Ah, yes turf wars. No, we are not talking about what group of kids controls the west side of the school playground.
It is the push in recent years for high schools to install artificial turf playing fields.
The Northeast region was walloped during the winter months with towering snow totals.
With the majority of the spring sports seasons starting the first week of April, it was nearly impossible for teams to get outside the gym and practice.
The natural grass fields were still encased in a layer of snow and ice in mid-March — but, not the artificial turf ones
Artificial turf fields are able to be plowed if they are done after each snow storm, not allowing for the ice to set into the surface.
Many schools and parks in the area with artificial turf made a killing in field rentals early in the off season.
Take Progin Park in Lancaster for example, the St. Bernard’s lacrosse teams rented field space there to start its season on time.
Some area baseball teams, colleges included, flocked to the artificial turf baseball fields on Rt. 20 in Northboro across from the shopping plaza to start their seasons. Fitchburg State’s baseball team used the turf at Auburn, while Elliot Field was still covered in snow.
Installing synthetic turf is a no brainer for the majority of schools in the region.
If you have ever watched a game at Groton-Dunstable, you might have wondered if they fertilize their fields. The answer is no. No, the school is prohibited by the town from spreading any type of fertilizer, due to the school being adjacent to wetlands.
Groton-Dunstable has the strongest case for installing synthetic turf.
The grass on the soccer/girls’ lacrosse field is virtually non existent. Dust flies everywhere because it is so dry, and crab grass is aplenty.
It has been a pipe dream of athletic director Mike McCaffrey to bring at least one artificial turf field to Groton-Dunstable.
So far, it has not been successful.
Littleton High School put together a proposal in November for installation of turf at both the high school and Alumni Field on Russell Street. The proposed cost of the project was $1.8 million. With dwindling town and school budgets, it is tough to fathom how likely such a project will happen.
But, with that said, synthetic turf is something that not only student-athletes will benefit from, but youth leagues will as well.
We all know the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association favors schools with synthetic turf, a working clock and press box to host its neutral site tournament games.
That is why the majority of championship contests are played at colleges and high schools with synthetic turf.
North Middlesex recently broke ground on its new high school, and I remember hearing some rumblings about trying to install some synthetic turf fields during the new construction phase.
The North Middlesex Regional School District would also benefit, but at the end of the day it boils down to cost.
Not every tax payer in town will support such an overhaul, but many know someone who has a child or a grandkid involved in town sports.
The current fields do not reflect well on the town or the school when other teams come to town. And, let’s not forget the hazards for players. Groton-Dunstable’s lacrosse fields are in such disrepair that McCaffrey and the athletic trainer are forced to fill in holes from time-to-time to keep athletes from hurting an ankle.
Personally, I have always been a fan of natural grass. Clinton High School, where many of you know I went, had natural grass. But, the difference is that they water it consistently and it is fertilized.
G-D, unfortunately, does not have that luxury.
Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout: @EdNiser