Nobody asked me, but . . .

December 10, 2010 -  By

By: Ron Hall

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The incidence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008, similar to the prevalence of obesity in adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. Fully one third of young people (adults too) are now overweight. It’s easy to tick off reasons — video games, too little exercise, sugar-laden soft drinks and juices, etc.; and, this in an era of the biggest sports field construction boom ever. So, we end up less healthy as a society but, hey, we’ve got great sports facilities.

Nobody asked me but . . . is it really a good idea to treat youth sports teams with after-game trips to McDonalds?

Bring on the Red

Canyon High School in New Braunfels, TX, is replacing its 9-year-old synthetic turf football field with a new red synthetic turf football field before next season. School officials reportedly decided that the Canyon High School playing field should match the red uniforms of the Canyon Cougar school colors. The cost of replacing the football field will be about $400,000.

Canyon is apparently copying the example of Eastern Washington University (EMU), Cheney, WA, which installed a bright red synthetic turf field this past summer. And, of course, Boise State University has been playing on a blue synthetic turf field (“Smurf turf”) for a decade or so. That said, who can fault the success of the Boise Broncos football team that has been unbeatable on its blue field. As I write this, the EMU football team is 9-2 and, to this point, has won all seven home games on its bright red field.

Nobody asked me but . . .  red and blue football fields, not cool.

Bigger, faster, more violent

It seems that synthetic surfaces and the much improved grass fields are one of several important factors that have combined to change the nature of the game of college and professional football. The smooth,speedy playing surfaces (except for Chicago’s Soldier Field and Pittburgh’s Heinz Stadium, that is), coupled with bigger, stronger and faster athletes and lighter protective equipment, including specialized footwear, are producing a game where the players’ cuts are quicker and hits are delivered with greater ferocity.

Nobody asked me but . . . I’d like to see even stronger action taken at every level of football to reduce the incidence of player concussions and bone/joint injuries.

Roundup-ready grasses?

More than 10 years ago we started hearing about Roundup-ready turfgrasses. The technology has been in place for years; indeed, the grasses have been developed and were being grown on test plots in Oregon and Washington. Perhaps they still are. Mostly what we’ve been hearing about is Roundup-ready bentgrass because of its high value on putting greens. Of course, with the golf market in a decade-long decline and home and commercial construction at a virtual standstill because of the stalled economy, the grass seed business has not been good.

The technology is certainly in place to develop and produce other commercially large species of Roundup-ready grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass and St. Augustinegrass but that doesn’t seem to be in the works.

Nobody asked me but . . . Roundup-ready grass has the potential to reduce inputs and simplify turfgrass management — assuming it ever clears regulatory review and, equally important, turfgrass managers are educated to adjust their management strategies.

Roosters, dogs and cage fighters

We’re all aware that dog fighting is illegal in the United States. The case of football star Michael Vick, who served 21 months in prison, brought that message home.  Strangely, human fighting, perversely disguised as sport, remains legal. In fact, it’s exploding in popularity, as evidenced by its growing presence on certain cable television networks. Sport? Ultimate Fighting, is growing in popularity and is eclipsing boxing (if it hasn’t already) as a profitable spectator sport.

If you haven’t seen Ultimate Fighting, it’s where a pair of combatants employing a mixed bag of martial arts, batter each other in a tiny cage. Knees to the midsection and punches to the head and face of a participant pinned to the mat or up against the boundaries of the cage are the usual fare in these spectacles that would have entertained Nero in his day. A variant of Ultimate Fighting is World Extreme Cagefighting, which, as its name suggests, is no less bloody and disturbing.

Nobody asked me, but . . . if we’re going to protect roosters and dogs from unnecessary cruelty and harm, should we do no less for our bizarrely tattoed fellow humans?

LM Staff

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