Opportunity is here for football supporters
to lay a solid foundation, but it may slip away
By Danny Cup Choy
Friday, May 31, 2002
Close your eyes and picture a time that you will wake up knowing that BYU will never make a trip to the islands again.
Imagine that the NFL Pro Bowl officials decide they do not want to stage their annual all-star game in Hawaii.
Do you think the plot I mention is a nightmare? While I grant you that the thought of life without BYU and the Pro Bowl is scary, this scenario is very much a reality. Hawaii needs BYU, and the thought of losing this timeless rivalry should worry all sports fans in the state. BYU is the team that gives fans a rare chance to bond together in the hope of destroying an opponent. Citizens of Hawaii might not be able to name the quarterback on Hawaii's football team, but they know that UH has to beat BYU. Beating BYU is one of those moments that people in Hawaii can say where they were when it happened. It is the lifeblood of big-time college football in Hawaii, and it is imperative that the rivalry stays in tact.
Field surface is a topic that has been debated for many years in Hawaii, but all of the words are finally being transformed into actions. Aloha Stadium might begin a transformation from nylon AstroTurf to FieldTurf, and I for one believe that this change cannot happen soon enough. While the change is long overdue, football fans should be thankful that a possible transition might take place. FieldTurf will ensure the continuation of high-octane football in Hawaii, but the safety of our athletes will finally be addressed as well.
The battle between Stadium Authority and the Hawaii Tourism Authority is real, and both sides have solid arguments. The Stadium Authority has only paid approximately $900,000 of the original $2.4 million that the current AstroTurf costs. The purchase of this surface occurred just three years ago, and the Stadium Authority is not keen on paying for two types of turf, one of which will be obsolete in the event of the installation of FieldTurf. The Hawaii Tourism Authority argues that a change in turf is obviously necessary, and there is no point in waiting for the warranty of the AstroTurf to expire. FieldTurf is becoming the norm for turf fields around the nation, and it is time for Hawaii to upgrade in order to keep up with the rest of the competition. Both sides make valid points, but it is time for officials to install FieldTurf.
Speaking as a fan of Hawaii football, it is necessary to install the new turf. The safety of the turf has not only been questioned by our home team, but it has also been a sore spot for the coaching staff of BYU as well as NFL players who participate in the Pro Bowl. The difference of playing on a softer field is quite obvious; the chance of injury drops drastically. Players hitting our current turf are highly susceptible to injury because it is rock solid. We do not want to see our Hawaii football players, both college and high school, obtain injuries over a problem that is so easily fixable as the debate about the turf at Aloha Stadium.
Those who like to play devil's advocate might say that if safety was such a concern, then why not change to grass, which is the safest of all surfaces. My reply to that would be simple; University of Hawaii football is made for turf. Coach Jones and his staff built our potent team around speed, and putting in a grass field would negate one of Hawaii's biggest advantages. On top of that, Aloha Stadium is a venue to other events, including frequent concerts. A grass surface would be too expensive and too difficult to maintain in situations like these. Therefore, take the best of both sides and install the safe and durable FieldTurf.
Comments from Stadium Authority would make it seem like FieldTurf is this new-age football commodity that is not needed at this time. In reality, FieldTurf is a surface that is used throughout the world of football. Nylon AstroTurf has become outdated, as Hawaii is only one of three Division I schools in the West to still use the dangerous surface.
The state of Hawaii is notoriously slow to get things done, but now we have the chance to make changes for the better; it is an opportunity that should not be taken lightly, and hopefully the decision-makers realize that their verdict impacts the safety of thousands of athletes.