Editorial | Fence busters
August 18, 2009 · Updated 3:39 PM
How great is it that the Mercer Island Little League team has risen to such heights! Not only is it playing in the Little League World Series this weekend in Williamsburg, Va., it virtually swept the plate with each of its opponents. The players are obviously talented, gifted and enthusiastic athletes. But behind every Little Leaguer is a (maroon) army of parents who haul the kids and their gear everywhere, organize practices, events and fundraising, feed, wash and nurture their players and travel to each and every game to cheer on the team. We offer them our heartfelt best wishes for the tournament ahead. We will be tuned in to watch.
And as all teams depend on their support system of families and communities, the football field at Mercer Island High School is a key element of sports and other events on the Island. As reported in this issue, the artificial turf field at the stadium is being replaced even as we go to press. The field, installed in late 2002 at a cost of $500,000, needs to be replaced for safety reasons. Fields such as this one only last eight or nine years, apparently, so this one has failed a bit early. Its replacement comes at a bad time — not only does the high school football team need it to practice, but the high school girls soccer teams and the fine MIHS marching band need the stadium with its lights in the evenings to prepare for their performances for the fall football season. To make it a bit more suspenseful, Mercer Island Schools begin a bit early this year on Sept. 2, before Labor Day weekend, squeezing the timeframe for replacement and leaving little room for error.
As unbelievable as it is that a half million dollars of high-tech materials can fall apart so quickly, one only has to look at how heavily the field is used. Such intensive use helps pay for its replacement through fees — yet hastens its demise.
Was there a choice on the part of administrators to time it better, or should they have kept the field as it is for at least the next year? Probably no choice at all. Once it was determined that student athletes could be injured, it had to be done.