In-Season Sports Should be Given Field Priority

Melissa Cully is a graduate student in the department of political science. Respond at [email protected].

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As I arrived on campus to begin my graduate studies this past fall, I anticipated a contrast in political climate from my undergraduate institution that critics often characterize as traditional and elitist.

In most aspects, I have found the egalitarianism at UC Berkeley to be refreshing and distinctive. But in one of the most blatant and visible areas of campus life, intercollegiate athletics, I have found the administration's treatment of field space distribution to be appallingly backward and short-sighted.

In my athletic career during college, when numerous varsity programs were competing for field space (and many of us were also competing intensely for national titles), practice field space was allocated on a priority basis to in-season teams based on their preferred competition assignment. There was

certainly limited space, but the collegial relationship between coaches of different sports, and between men's and women's teams of the same sport, obviated any disputes.

Here at Cal, the football team has year-long first priority regarding the use of the field inside the stadium, despite the fact that the women's lacrosse team has been assigned that space for their home games. As such, the majority of the in-season lacrosse practices are held at quite a distance from the campus, on a field with few resources, while the football team holds its off-season practices in the stadium during prime afternoon practice time.

The value of giving in-season teams considerable priority over the use of their competition field is multifold: Not only does it assure a substantial home field advantage to the team against their opponents, it provides a sense of consistency and purpose that are essential to building and maintaining a successful program.

Additionally, it sends an imperative message to both the team members and its recruits: We value your program, and are committed to making it better.

Intercollegiate athletics are the most visible representation of our school, and our student-athletes are our envoys to the rest of the academic and athletic community.

Women's lacrosse is a sport that attracts individuals of considerable character and academic achievement, and the administration's treatment of this successful program has been remiss. I urge you to give these athletes the field usage they deserve, and hope you join me in commending them for their hard-fought successes thus far.


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