It's that time of year when the youth soccer leagues migrate from indoor warehouse fields to the great outdoors. I generally like watching my daughter play soccer. The parents and coaches aren't too crazy and it gives me a chance to relax for a little on a Sunday afternoon. Also, my daughter loves it. One thing that I DON'T look forward to are home games. Sounds crazy huh? No, I am not averse to the idea of a "home field advantage" or anything like that. Instead, I loathe the hour of breathing in the smell of burning rubber for an hour or so.
At first I found this a little shocking. In the land of rain barrels, honeybee and butterfly gardens, backyard chicken coops, and organic food co-ops , we seem have an obsession with synthetic turf. What I find most bizarre is that this obsession seems to crop up every time we have a park rehabilitation being planned. When fields were replaced at Ridgeland Common, we NEEDED synthetic turf! When Irving School rehabbed their playground, we NEEDED synthetic turf! The cry came out again when they were rehabilitating Taylor Park. We NEED synthetic turf! Luckily they didn't get their way at Taylor.
Now there are plans in the works for converting two more fields, at Julian and Brooks Schools, to synthetic turf. Leading the charge for all of these fields of waving plastic is none other than the youth soccer leagues, AYSO and Chicago Edge. Their reasoning? If we don't get synthetic turf, then the children can't play soccer 24-7, 365 days a year!!! WE NEED IT FOR OUR POOR UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN! The reasoning is effective. Who ever says no to the children? The question I have is this: why can't they just be proponents of new well-maintained playing fields that are made of natural grass. Why must they be synthetic?
I think that the unseemliness of it to me comes down to what this stuff is: it is a mat of polypropylene and plastic strands with tiny rubber granules in it. It is not something I would sit or walk on by choice and it isn't something I would ever put in my own yard.