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Feb. 5, 2010

Blazers recount the greatest show on turf

by Gardi Royce, Page Editor
As the Blair athlete streaks down the field, she makes a quick cut to free herself from the defender. Not expecting the move, the defender waits a second before chasing the Blazer down. However, this one-second is all the Blazer needs to get open and score the magnificent goal. Her agility could be a tribute to her talent, or could show the effect the new turf has on sports. This fall season featured some of the most exciting and fast-paced games in recent Blair history. The soccer teams had thrilling games every outing; the football team made quicker moves and ended the season with an impressive two-game winning streak. While these successes are the result of good teams, Blair's new energizing home turf may have made its own contribution to the teams.

From a fan's perspective, the turf makes games the way they should be: faster, more professional and more competitive. Just watching the teams play on the crisp turf makes the fans feel as if they're watching higher-level sports. Avid sports fan junior Benson Welles echoes the sentiment of many Blazers: "When you watch them play, the turf makes them seem like professionals. We get into the game more because everything is much quicker and dangerous."

Sports today, even at the high school level, have become more focused on making the contests like ideal computerized video games. Everything has to run smoothly. Playing conditions can't be too cold or too hot and games must be on artificial turf instead of real earth. This modernization of sports has taken away the fundamental backbone of athletics. Sports have always been something that people partake in which their brawn and skill is matched with another. Sports are about two opponents competing in the rawest and most primordial sense. There's no polite way to knock a wide receiver off his feet, no polite way to steal the ball from the point guard. But by installing the new turf, there will never again be a mud bowl or a game remembered for 20 years because it was raining so hard that people were slipping during every play.

Although the field and setup may be changing, the engine that keeps sports going is the players who work all year for their team. An important aspect to look at when considering the benefits of the turf is what the hard-working players felt. Senior football captain Andrew Gondor believes it and helped athletes play faster and more safely. "It brings out the competition and fight that young players don't know they had. It forces you to play at a higher level. "Soccer and field hockey captains expressed their pleasure and gratitude with the turf installation - since it has taken away the piles of dirt and devious rocks to which they would normally fall victim.

Although sports have moved into a new age of superdomes and artificial turf, high school players will continue to pour their heart out onto whatever rests beneath them. The Blair turf is just a stepping-stone for athletes to move into the modern and high-paced sports world around them. As the new turf has become a part of Blair, Blazers can confidently play at the top of their games. And hopefully, we, the community, can work to move past the controversy of real grass vs. plastic and support our teams on their home turf.

Sidebar:
Although the turf is a field of controversy around Blair, it is, in fact, the county that owns the land. Paid for by Montgomery County, it's the county that controls the turf and who uses it. If a playoff game is being played on the turf or a non-school league is using the turf, the county collects any money raised. Since Blair doesn't own the turf, the school is not allowed to have fire drills inside the stadium, the former location for the drills.



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