December 19, 2014

Loudoun County Must Oppose Artificial Turf Fields

The Loudoun County School Board has requested $8 million to install artificial turf on all high school football fields. This is not a good idea.

Field Turf is not a financially sound and equitable solution for Loudoun County’s shortage of athletic fields. Conventional thinking states that Field Turf does not need to be maintained regularly like natural grass so it will be cheaper over time. Conventional thinking also states that Field Turf is more resistant to weather so more games can be played on Field Turf than natural grass. Both of these assertions are false.

*Note that throughout this article, I will use “Field Turf” as a generic term for artificial turf that looks like synthetic grass. Field Turf is actually a brand of artificial turf just like how Kleenex is a brand of tissue. Astroturf is an obsolete brand of artificial turf that looks like carpet.

Field Turf is not Fiscally Conservative

Yes, Field Turf has a very high initial cost that can go over $1 million for high schools. However, many people see Field Turf as a fiscally conservative solution because the lower maintenance costs will allow the playing surface to be cheaper over time compared to natural grass. Field Turf would also be cheaper per event as more events can be hosted without cutting, re-sodding, and re-painting natural grass.

The reality is that Field Turf, if properly maintained to the highest standards, will not be cheaper than natural grass. Sure you don’t have to mow Field Turf, but you have to take care of it in other ways. Field Turf is not natural grass so natural, biodegradable substances do not get absorbed into the ground. Blood, sweat, tears, snot, vomit, and poop (hopefully just dog poop, not human poop) just stays on Field Turf without getting absorbed like natural grass. I have seen fields that are not properly cleaned up after these everyday incidents. Anti-microbial protection wears out over time and cannot defend against these natural occurrences from sports.

That is just gross. Artificial turf must be cleaned and disinfected regularly just like how natural grass needs to be cut, re-sodded, and re-painted regularly. Otherwise, artificial turf becomes a breeding ground for a variety of diseases. Turf burns that result from skin abrasions with artificial turf can lead to diseases. This has been documented. Artificial turf ends up being just as expensive if not more expensive than natural grass.

Artificial turf can be cheaper than natural grass if administrators skimp on maintenance. This causes even more problems. Under the illusion that Field Turf can withstand more events, they don’t properly maintain the playing surface like they should. Sometimes, they just don’t want to pay for the maintenance. I have seen Field Turf playing surfaces that are littered with sunflower seeds and not cleaned up for games. Without regular cleanup, disinfecting, and quality control, Field Turf will be more expensive than natural grass, guaranteed because the lifespan of the playing surface will diminish. Replacement is very expensive.

Yes, you have to “water” Field Turf just like natural grass for safety and health reasons. There is no financial benefit to Field Turf and for those of that ideological persuasion, Field Turf is not “fiscally conservative” because it does not pay for itself and then some after a huge initial investment. Saving money by hosting more events and not maintaining upkeep of Field Turf will prove to be much more expensive over the long haul as the playing surface must be replaced sooner.

Field Turf is not Equitable

Is Field Turf fair and just for all stakeholders? Field Turf is not a just solution for taxpayers. It is also not a just solution for players and the game.

For the players, Field Turf sponsored research, which should already flagged for bias, claims that Field Turf cuts down on many injuries like concussions. This is highly debatable, but even if such research was true, Field Turf presents other issues that cancels out the benefit. Knee injuries and turf toe can be debilitating injuries that have a higher occurrence on artificial turf than on natural grass.

Heat strokes are another issue that Field Turf presents. Step onto any Field Turf playing surface in the summer time. It feels much hotter than natural grass. It also smells like burning rubber. It smells like burning rubber because it is burning rubber.

The synthetic grass fibers have rubber infill made out of recycled tires. This infill is designed to give the playing surface a cushion. This rubber infill has also been questioned for having lead content along with the paint.

Heat is already a safety issue for summer sporting events. Field Turf exacerbates the situation by raising on-field temperatures above over the air temperatures. Temperatures on artificial turf can be up to 86.5 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than natural grass.

Artificial turf is also bad for the environment. It disrupts the migratory pattern of birds and destroys all the organisms that live on or beneath the natural surface that is replaced. Once artificial turf has been installed, it is difficult to go back to natural grass because the soil has been ripped out and replaced with a fake.

Finally, Field Turf subtracts from the charm and mystique of the games played upon them. Chiefly, football is most affected negatively. Real football is meant to be played in all conditions. Torrential downpours, blistering blizzards, muddy fields, and ice all add character to a game that demands excellence in the face of all adversity.

When I played football in 8th grade, one of my fondest memories of the experience was practicing in the rain and mud. These were the conditions that would require switching to the longest cleats (1 in.) which I would have done if I wore detachable cleats instead of the standard entry-level molded Nike Land Sharks that every growing kid wears just to play the game. At first, you avoided the mud puddles as you walked out to the practice field, but one you made a tackle or got tackled, you threw caution to wind and rain and just let it loose. Mud would cover your entire uniform and kids would dare each other to dive into mud puddles for absolutely no reason other than for laughs. People say we should “let kids be kids.” This is what I think about when people say, “let kids be kids.” Natural grass is organic unlike artificial turf so proper hygiene and parenting skills will prevent the onset of staph infections and other illnesses from playing football in the mud and the social and character benefits are great.

Let kids be kids. Play football on natural grass.

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Guns Save Lives

“Look at folk like Sean Taylor.  You know what they said?  They said if he had a strap, he would have lived today.” – T.I.

The rapper T.I. expressed in his song “Ready for Whatever” that if Sean Taylor had a gun on him on the day he was robbed by armed burglars, he would have been able to protect himself from deadly force.

Guns save lives.  No, I am not part of the Virginia Citizens’ Defense League.  I think a lot of those people are weird, but I do agree with the assertion that guns save lives.  Banning guns will only disarm law abiding citizens.  It will not disarm criminals who will find a way to get a gun.  It will not eliminate a criminal’s criminal intention.

Guns are the great equalizer when the deadly threat is physically stronger.  The best way for a petite woman to protect herself against an unarmed, physically stronger attacker would be to possess a handgun.  When you think about it, gun rights should be supported by the left because the idea of equalizing results is, um… socialistic!

John Lott wrote a reasonable and rational response to Bob Costas’ on-air criticism of guns.  Some people believe that if guns were banned, Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide would have never happened.  John Lott argues against a handgun ban, but he does not argue for free, unregulated handgun ownership either.  He urges people to look into the net effect when comparing a strict gun policy versus a more accessible gun policy.  Gun crimes will happen regardless of the law, but counterintuitively, more guns does equal less crime when you factor in the millions of assaults, batteries, rapes, and murders that are prevented when law abiding citizens use guns to fight back.  Often, no shots are even fired and the incidents go unreported by the media.

Guns protect those who can’t protect themselves.  Petite women being attacked by brutally strong attackers and poor, urban families living in neighborhoods neglected by the police stand to benefit the most from gun ownership.  John Lott’s article is a recommended read.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/12/03/truth-about-costas-belcher-and-guns/?test=latestnews

Corporate welfare for the Redskins, political points for Virginia Republicans

Call me a party pooper, but I was not as excited to hear the news that Governor Bob McDonnell is paying the Washington Redskins, a private enterprise, to remain in Virginia. Mind you, the team is not moving. They are just trying to improve or relocate their corporate headquarters and training facility.

Republicans really enjoyed criticizing Barack Obama for his plans to “create and save jobs” by asking how one quantifies “saving” jobs. Well, now it looks like Governor McDonnell and all Virginia Republicans can turn around and say that they just “saved” thousands of jobs too. They did that by paying a private enterprise $4 million to help pay for improvements.

Virginia Republicans have been on a media war against Maryland Democrats over the issue of job creation and job retention. It is obvious that Martin O’Malley’s draconian tax policies and onerous regulations have benefited Virginia greatly by sending jobs south of the Potomac River.

Since the Redskins were exploring the market and accepting bids for a new home, I can see how McDonnell did everything he could to keep the Redskins and all the jobs and economic impact here in Virginia. Losing the Redskins to DC or PG County would ruin the narrative that Virginia Republicans have been touting all along about being better than Maryland at job creation. Conservative principles were violated in order to score political points.

I am a fiscal conservative of the libertarian tradition (Go Ron Paul!). I don’t believe government should be in the business of picking winners and losers. Hey, you know, I don’t generate tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue, but I do pay my “fair share”, whatever that means. I’m thinking about moving to Maryland because I’d like to be closer to the Bay. All of my tax dollars and disposable income will be taken out of state. Can I get $400,000 from the Commonwealth to stay?

You see what I mean? It is a slippery slope. First you give corporate welfare to the sports team. Next you give corporate welfare to the oil companies. You fight an unnecessary war to give corporate welfare to the military industrial complex. You give corporate welfare to the tech companies. Then you give welfare to the masses. Oh, wait. We’re already doing ALL of that!

What makes this situation even more ridiculous is that Redskins owner Dan Snyder could have paid for all the improvements he needed without resorting to the state for help if he never signed Albert Haynesworth.

Ouch!

Frank Beamer is a Class Act

Hat tip goes to Mark Obenshain for this bit of inspirational news just in time for the Christmas season and postseason bowl games.

Daniel Rodriguez is a undersized former high school football standout in Virginia who, due to hardships in the family, had to postpone college and join the Army. He fought in Afghanistan and Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star after suffering wounds for his acts of valor during a battle. After serving with distinction and getting an honorable discharge, he enrolled in Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg with hopes of transferring to a four-year institution.

Now 23 years old, he wants to continue his football career at the next level and he is thinking big. He wants to walk on at Virginia Tech, a perennial top 25 program. Less than one day after a Washingtonian article on Rodriguez was published and forwarded to the Virginia Tech Athletic Department, Coach Frank Beamer took a brief moment away from his bowl game preparations to read the article and watch the enclosed highlight film. He was impressed. After the Hokies return from the bowl game, Coach Beamer has made it a priority to give this remarkable individual a chance to pursue his dream of graduating from Virginia Tech and playing football for the Hokies.

The articles are referenced below and the highlight film is embedded. You must watch this video. It is well worth your time.

Faith, diligence, focus, determination, and a lot of moxie will help you accomplish unexpected feats. If given the opportunity to walk on the Virginia Tech football team, I have no doubt that Mr. Rodriguez will do more than is necessary to secure his spot on the team. He will make his own destiny.

Let’s go Hokies.

Haber, Brett (2011, December 22). Virginia’s Daniel Rodriguez: From Football Hero to War Hero . . . and Back? Washingtonian. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/people/capitalcomment/22011.html

Haber, Brett (2011, December 22). Update: Hokies’ Beamer Contacts Washingtonian’s Haber After Piece on Rodriguez. Washingtonian. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonian.com/blogarticles/people/capitalcomment/22038.html

1st Annual College Football Bowl Pick ‘Em Contest

(Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis and will be scored from the date stamp forward.)

I am starting a college football bowl pick ‘em contest here on NOVA Common Sense. This is similar to the NCAA Tournament brackets done for college basketball on other blogs/newspapers and at water coolers all across working America. The difference here is that this contest deals with college football which automatically makes it better. I am biased. I lettered in varsity football in college.

Here are the rules.
– Pick one winner for each game. We will not complicate matters with a spread. Just pick the winner of each game.
– You earn one point for each correct prediction.
– You earn three points for each correct BCS Bowl prediction. BCS bowls are the Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar Bowls.
– You earn five points for picking the winner of the BCS Championship Game between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama.

Bonus points for the football-challenged and for the George Allen/Jack Kemp/Heath Shuler/J.C. Watts/Steve Largent wannabes:
– You earn five points for picking the winner of the Iowa caucuses set to take place on January 3, 2012 and five points for the winner of the New Hampshire primary on January 10, 2012. Pick who you think will win. This person may not necessarily be who you want to win and your choice here does not constitute your endorsement in any way, shape, or form.

This is just for fun. Competition is its own reward.

My picks are listed below in bold. The form to enter your picks follows.

O let’s do it.

Bowl Location Date/Time Network
Gildan New Mexico
Temple vs. Wyoming
Albuquerque, N.M.
University Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 17
2 p.m.
ESPN
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio vs. Utah State
Boise, Idaho
Bronco Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 17
5:30 p.m.
ESPN
R+L Carriers New Orleans
San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
New Orleans
Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Tickets
Dec. 17
9 p.m.
ESPN
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg
Florida International vs. Marshall
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Tropicana Field
Tickets
Dec. 20
8 p.m.
ESPN
S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia
TCU vs. Louisiana Tech
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 21
8 p.m.
ESPN
MAACO Las Vegas
Arizona State vs. Boise State
Las Vegas
Sam Boyd Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 22
8 p.m.
ESPN
Sheraton Hawaii
Nevada vs. Southern Miss
Honolulu
Aloha Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 24
8 p.m.
ESPN
AdvoCare V100 Independence
Missouri vs. North Carolina
Shreveport, La.
Independence Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 26
5 p.m.
ESPN2
Little Caesars
Western Michigan vs. Purdue
Detroit
Ford Field
Tickets
Dec. 27
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
Belk
Louisville vs. NC State
Charlotte, N.C.
Bank of America Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 27
8 p.m.
ESPN
Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman
Toledo vs. Air Force
Washington, D.C.
RFK Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 28
4:30 p.m.
ESPN
Bridgepoint Education Holiday
California vs. Texas
San Diego
Qualcomm Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 28
8 p.m.
ESPN
Champs Sports
Florida State vs. Notre Dame
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Tickets
Dec. 29
5:30 p.m.
ESPN
Valero Alamo
Washington vs. Baylor
San Antonio
Alamodome
Tickets
Dec. 29
9 p.m.
ESPN
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
BYU vs. Tulsa
Dallas
Gerald J. Ford Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 30
Noon
ESPN
New Era Pinstripe
Rutgers vs. Iowa State
Bronx, N.Y.
Yankee Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 30
3:20 p.m.
ESPN
Franklin American Mortgage Music City
Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest
Nashville, Tenn.
LP Field
Tickets
Dec. 30
6:40 p.m.
ESPN
Insight
Iowa vs. Oklahoma
Tempe, Ariz.
Sun Devil Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 30
10 p.m.
ESPN
Meineke Car Care of Texas
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern
Houston
Reliant Stadium
Tickets
Dec. 31
Noon
ESPN
Hyundai Sun
Georgia Tech vs. Utah
El Paso, Texas
Sun Bowl
Tickets
Dec. 31
2 p.m.
CBS
AutoZone Liberty
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
Memphis, Tenn.
Liberty Bowl
Tickets
Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
ABC
Kraft Fight Hunger
Illinois vs. UCLA
San Francisco
AT&T Park
Tickets
Dec. 31
3:30 p.m.
ESPN
Chick-fil-A
Virginia vs. Auburn
Atlanta
Georgia Dome
Tickets
Dec. 31
7:30 p.m.
ESPN
TicketCity 
Houston vs. Penn State
Dallas
Cotton Bowl
Tickets
Jan. 2
Noon
ESPNU
Outback
Michigan State vs. Georgia
Tampa, Fla.
Raymond James Stadium
Tickets
Jan. 2
1 p.m.
ABC
Capital One
Nebraska vs. South Carolina
Orlando, Fla.
Florida Citrus Bowl
Tickets
Jan. 2
1 p.m.
ESPN
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Ohio State vs. Florida
Jacksonville, Fla.
EverBank Field
Tickets
Jan. 2
1 p.m.
ESPN2
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
Wisconsin vs. Oregon
Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl
Tickets
Jan. 2
5 p.m.
ESPN
Tostitos Fiesta
Stanford vs. Oklahoma State
Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium
Tickets
Jan. 2
8:30 p.m.
ESPN
Allstate Sugar
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Tickets
Jan. 3
8:30 p.m.
ESPN
Discover Orange
West Virginia vs. Clemson
Miami
Sun Life Stadium
Tickets
Jan. 4
8:30 p.m.
ESPN
AT&T Cotton
Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Arlington, Texas
Cowboys Stadium
Tickets
Jan. 6
8 p.m.
FOX
BBVA Compass Bowl
SMU vs. Pittsburgh
Birmingham, Ala.
Legion Field
Tickets
Jan. 7
1 p.m.
ESPN
GoDaddy.com
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois
Mobile, Ala.
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Tickets
Jan. 8
9 p.m.
ESPN
Allstate BCS National Championship Game
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 2 Alabama
New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome
Tickets
Jan. 9
8:30 p.m.
ESPN

Iowa: Newt Gingrich
New Hampshire: Newt Gingrich

Army-Navy Preview

Starting today, I will, from time to time, publish sports articles of regional interest. Football is my first love and I lettered in the sport in college as a running back on the Baylor Bears football team (Currently #12 in the nation, invited to the Alamo Bowl, and quarterback Robert Griffin III “RG3″ is a Heisman Trophy finalist.). Every once in a while, I would like to write about topics I really like in which I am well-versed. I do not think about politics 24/7 and I hate it 12/7. Unlike virtually all other politicos, I am shockingly normal.


Thanks to a connection to West Point, I have the privilege of attending the Army-Navy Game today at FedEx Field. Kickoff is at 2:30pm. In my book, this means I must report to the stadium by 12:30pm. I have always wanted to attend the Army-Navy Game in person and this will be my first time!

I don’t tailgate. I don’t even know what tailgating is since I spent my entire life warming-up on the field and getting focused in the locker room during pre-game! I like to go to the game early, get my mind right, and watch the pre-game warm-ups to scout the participants. I’ll be the only person in my group of 24 friends who received tickets from our mutual West Point alumnus and faculty member to show up at the stadium first and all alone to witness everything from the start of pre-game warm-ups.

Especially for the Army-Navy Game, I would strongly discourage everybody from wasting time with tailgates and other non-football tomfoolery. Aside from getting to see which team is more focused and crisp in their pitch relationship for their triple option attack during pre-game, the entrance procession of the Cadets and Midshipmen is quite a sight to see and the pre-game ceremonies will provoke intense pride in our great nation.

Our block of reserved group seating is in the lower level. The vast majority of fans would be excited to see the action up close. I actually like to sit up high so I can get my offensive coordinator mind on. Yes, it really does matter to me that I discern if the defense is playing cover 2 or cover 3 and I can only make that determination with a bird’s eye view. A suite would be perfect. (Football elitist alert!)

With the exception of siding with my favorite players, I hardly ever root for any team while watching football. I’ll watch football just for the sake of watching football. Two unknown Division III colleges could be playing and it would still pique my interest. I’m a student of the game (nerd) and I watch the game in thoughtful silence. (NOVA Common Sense founder Brian Schoeneman knows this all to well.)

This could be the year Army (3-8) snaps its losing streak to Navy (4-7). Navy is experiencing a down year. The turning point of Navy’s season was its heartbreaking overtime loss to Air Force after coming back from a large deficit to tie the game in the final minute. Navy’s uncharacteristic season has been characteristic of a team that has unfulfilled potential due to close losses and an inability to put together a complete game on offense, defense, and special teams.

Army enters the game with the #1 ranked rushing offense in the nation. This should be qualified with the fact that Army’s passing offense is ranked #120. Navy’s rushing offense is ranked #4 and its passing offense is ranked #119. As always, the Army-Navy Game will be an old school matchup fought and won in the trenches.

After making their first bowl appearance since 1996 in 2010, Army has failed to become bowl eligible this season. Injuries and a difficult schedule made the task of earning a bowl bid challenging. Navy is favored to win by seven points.

Army-Navy is the best college football rivalry. The tradition and pageantry surrounding this event has no equivalent. Fierce competition on the field ends with brothers in arms united, standing in attention for each team’s school song.

Seniors leave the game understanding that they will join with their West Point and Annapolis brethren and spend the next few years of their lives defending freedom in an always hostile world. Some of these players have the talent to go pro, but they all knew coming in that when they play football for a service academy, they are representing a greater cause and aspirations of going pro must wait until they fulfill their commitment to serve. It is moving, especially when you know what it is like to play football at the college level, to see these seniors play the final regular season game of their collegiate career with unbridled passion and leave every last bit of their soul out on the field to the point of tears.

I like to have it both ways. I also like to make fashion statements and color coordinate my outfits in the freshest manner. My closet is filled with hats of many different teams, some of which I have a passing interest and others were needed to fill a gap in a color scheme in my wardrobe. I have Washington Redskins hats AND Dallas Cowboys hats. That said…

Go Army. Go Navy.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.
Football.
Snow.

Enjoy.