Intramural fields need improvement beyond current upkeep

Editor’s Note: This is in response to the article “SLU Athletes Play on Solid Ground” which appeared in the Oct. 21st edition of The University News.

This is in response to the article “SLU Athletes Play on Solid Ground” which appeared in the October 21 edition of The University News.

This is my ninth semester here at SLU, and I can attest to the truth of Keith Labitska’s “mastery” in keeping the Robert R. Hermann pitch looking as professional as possible.  Michael Johnson’s article, however, unintentionally demonstrates a disparity present under the current administration.

The commentary focuses on the work done by University staff in professionalizing a facility for “SLU athletes.”

But what about the rest of the students here who participate in non-NCAA sanctioned programs?

I was content with everything that I was reading about Labitska in Johnson’s article until I reached the second to last paragraph.

Johnson notes here in the article that aside from the soccer pitches, “he also oversees the baseball, softball, intramural and practice soccer fields.   The new multi-purpose athletic fields, currently being built at the medical campus, will also fall under his jurisdiction.”

Wait, what?!  Let me re-read this.  You mean to tell me that the man who takes samples of grass and dirt from the Hermann field into the lab to test the level of “nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium” is in charge of all of the fields?

The first question that popped into my head was “how is it possible to test for these elements in a field of sand.”  For many of you who participate in Club/Intramural sports, you know what I am referring to.

If you do not participate in these activities or just haven’t gotten around to both the east and west ends of the main campus, I am referencing the Olive/Compton and Vandeventer playing fields.

These past years, I have seen the condition of these playing fields decline.

Every summer I watched the University close access to the fields while the grounds crew laid new turf down in preparation for the new school year.

Every fall semester, without fail, these fields turn to a mess of divots and sand within two months.  This year it came earlier, as the Vandeventer field was shut down for a few days only one week into intramurals.  ONE WEEK.

The Olive/Compton playing field is just as bad. This semester the University decided to try to remedy this by putting more sand down.  Obviously, this compounded the problem.  What have I learned from this?

The University and administration has failed in providing adequate facilities for all students who participate in recreational activities.

I know I am not the only one who as observed this deterioration; and I know that I am not the only one invested in the condition of the fields.  Personally, I have lost my desire to play on sand and chunks of turf; it’s no longer fun.  I have seen and heard of injuries that occurred on these pitches.

So here is a solution, and it’s pretty simple.  Close down the fields, and do it properly.  Placing turf with one to two inches of sand on top of soil will not, and has not, worked.  The administration cannot be ignorant of this.

I cannot imagine that the President or Vice President have avoided seeing these fields in the past four years.

By not acting, they are showing the disparity in the value that they place on athletes and non-athletes.

-Max Nash-Howe is fifth year student in the College of Arts and Sciences.