Too many drawbacks to field project

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To the Editor:

This is a copy of a letter sent to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Oak Bluffs planning board on Feb. 4.

Thanks for the chance to share my opinion about the effort to install a synthetic playing field at MVRHS. 

I am a lifelong sports fan, a frustrated former athlete, and the father of a boy who became a successful college soccer player. I think I understand the appeal of a turf field: usable in any weather, easy to maintain, more predictable performance (i.e. truer bounces, more consistent footing).

The point has been made that our Vineyard athletes are at a competitive disadvantage with kids at schools that have turf fields. I would argue that the skills of soccer players and field hockey players, for example, can actually be accelerated by playing on grass: You become quicker when you don’t know precisely how the ball will bounce.

I also think there are serious financial and environmental drawbacks to the proposed project. Even before the pandemic made economic inequality in this country even more obvious, it seemed unnecessarily extravagant to spend money on something that is not a necessity, and that benefits only a small subset of the wider school and Island population. And it’s hard for me to find a rationale for using anything made of plastic when a natural alternative is available.

Whit Griswold
West Tisbury