The Reed Football Field Debacle

I’ll disclose upfront that this post addressed two organizations I have history with, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) and the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association (NIAA), so there’s definitely some joy in sticking it to them a little.

This week the NIAA moved the state semifinal game between Sparks, Reed and Las Vegas Liberty  from Reed High School to a private school in town, deeming Reed’s field dangerous and inappropriate for a playoff game. I rarely agree with anything the NIAA does, but in this case they were absolutely right. Reed’s field has been an embarrassment for years.  Hard dirt covers huge parts of the playing surface, a goalpost has been bent for at least five years and the whole place looks like it’s been abandoned.

 Like neglectful parents attempting to justify feeding children donuts for dinner, the WCSD addressed the minimal actions they’d taken, “the safety of our student athletes is a primary concern at the Washoe County School District. In order to provide the best playing field possible at Reed High School, district personnel have consistently worked on the field this year, providing aeration, seeding, watering, fertilization, sanding and leveling.”

 The bottom line is whether through incompetence, lack of money or lack of interest, Reed’s administration and the WCSD have failed to provide the minimum any program should expect, a safe place to play.

I don’t know whether Reed’s admin, the WCSD or the taxpayers are more to blame, but I do know this is typical for Reno. ¼ of one percent of educational budget is allocated to athletics in Washoe County. (In Texas, it’s between 1.5 and 2.5 percent. Modest, but at least 6 times what we provide.) I also know this isn’t the fault of Reed’s football program. They do an outstanding, professional job and should be able to focus on coaching rather than field maintenance.

An underlying theme of my book is the difference between how Texas and Nevada view athletics. This incident makes the point very well. In Texas, there would be no argument that this field isn’t appropriate for a semi-final playoff game, much less a seventh grade scrimmage. In Reno, people actually have the gall to argue, that because the embarrassing condition of this field has been allowed to slide for years that it’s really not so bad. Substandard support has become the norm here and it’s the coaches and kids who pay the price.

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