Matt Pelc: To Ditch the Gray Turf Field
My 2017 wish for Eastern Michigan University is to ditch the gray field. Look, as an alumnus of the fine university, I understand where we stand on the Michigan sports landscape, usually slightly above the long-defunct Detroit Vipers.
As a student for four years at EMU, I attended two sporting events, a football and basketball game, and left before each finished. So, I understand the gimmicks, I truly do. Having football players “bust” through a cinderblock wall is part of the overall blue-collar theme of Rynearson Stadium, which the university lovingly rebranded as “The Factory” prior to the 2016 football season.
The Factory theme and the blue-collar marketing campaign actually works. It’s symbolic of the hardworking residents of Southeastern Michigan. To be considered “blue-collar” usually denotes a certain chip on the shoulder mindset. That’s something that Eastern Michigan University, it’s students, and athletics have seemed to carry as a badge of honor for decades while being lost in the long shadow cast by The University of Michigan less than seven miles down the road.
The gray field carries none of these aspects. Flipping the channel on your television and landing on a football game in Ypsilanti may cause some hysterics thinking your high-priced TV is in death throes.
Aside from the large green E in the middle of the field, and the green end zones, it looks as if you were transplanted to the days of black and white TV.
Today, college athletics is all about attracting young eyeballs. Oregon has built the success of its program on garish and ugly uniforms that appeal to high schoolers. These high schoolers may have athletic talents and want to don these garish and ugly uniforms. Boom, advantage Ducks. Boise State started the shaded turf trend decades ago, and just like schools did with Oregon’s uniforms, schools have followed with their own takes on the legendary “Smurf Turf” of New Haven, Idaho.
Still, this football program, at least for this year, is relevant! We went to only the second bowl game in school history this season. Several games were broadcast on national television on ESPN or CBS Sports Network, so we’ve gotten a lot of coverage lately. We don’t really need a funky field now. 2017 is the perfect time to correct the error.