Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SPORTS >> On the surface, facilities looking screwy

Leader sportswriter

The word tradition is frequently used in sports for a reason — because sports fans honor and respect tradition.

That’s not to say sports fans are against the convenience of modern technology and amenities. Who doesn’t like Jumbotrons and giant scoreboards that exclaim “Let’s gooooooooooo — make some nooooooise”?

Maybe that’s a few too many o’s, but you get the point.

But who came up with the idea of red-turfed football fields? And where can I find this person in order to slap him repeatedly?

My eyesight is poor to start with, so imagine the level of migraine headache I achieved when watching Eastern Washington host Delaware in the Football Championship Subdivision final on Jan. 7.

Torn between cheering for a team with red turf as opposed to a team nicknamed the Fightin’ Blue Hens, I still could not find it in my heart to relinquish the remote control to my girlfriend. It was a Friday night, and another rerun of “The Golden Girls” just didn’t seem appealing at that moment — or any moment, for that matter.

That’s another set of fightin’ blue hens altogether.

But what’s an obscure NCAA I-AA school to us? Let them have their silly red turf, right? Well, there’s also the influence factor, and it didn’t take long.

Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas, debuted its new football turf – red in color – at a recent soccer match. The Cougars had played nine seasons on the old boring green turf, and when it came time to replace the synthetic grass, the faculty and students decided to show a grotesque amount of spirit by rolling out turf in the primary school color.

We’re not talking off-red, dark red or even magenta — it’s as red as Leader sports editor Todd Traub’s face when he discovers he’s running low on gin, which to the best of my understanding is an almost daily occurrence.

Notice to Johnny White and other school officials at Cabot High School: please, PLEASE do not jump on the red-turf bandwagon.

Panther Stadium is probably another five or six years away from needing a new surface, but let the campaign to keep it green begin now. Let’s be clear; green in a Martha Stewart or P. Allen Smith sense, not in a Cheech and Chong or David Chappelle sense.

To be fair (I guess), the Canyon High football field does still have green on it – in the end zones, you know, the part of the field traditionally painted another color. Good one guys; nice touch.

We can all thank Boise State for this. Some found it a bit offbeat but most were apathetic to the Broncos’ blue field nicknamed “Smurf Turf” when it was unveiled several years back. Boise State made up for some of its ditching of tradition with a repertoire of throwback gadget plays, including the old Statue of Liberty play it used to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

But now, the basketball guys are getting into the whole, over-modernizing of playing surfaces, like in the case of Oregon’s new Matthew Knight Arena.

The venue, named after the late son of Nike CEO and school booster Phil Knight, debuted last week with a game against USC, and ESPN2 viewers were no doubt taken aback not only by the court itself, which features a bleached white mid-court area that fades into various shades of natural wood, but also the multi-colored, iridescent ribbon board that surrounds the upper-deck levels.

The banner changes colors every few seconds, and if that’s not enough to throw unsuspecting fans into seizures, it also produces a horrible glare on the already aesthetically challenged court. Granted, Oregon is a school that has spiritedly challenged tradition in the past, right up to the neon-yellow colored socks featured in the BCS national championship game against Auburn on Jan. 10.

Can you imagine if the national championship game had been shown inside Peaches nightclub that night?

It could have been the first time in history exotic dancers were envious of a sports team’s socks.

Oregon’s athletic department seems more overzealous than a Sherwood cop at rush hour with its frequent uniform tweaks and one-off color schemes.

It makes me glad the primary school color is green. Just think what the football field would look like if Ducks’ school colors were purple and black.