• Lillie Burke

OPINION: Turf doesn’t cut it

Although we earned the right to vote in 1920, women’s rights are still a hot topic today with equal rights especially in women’s sports.

Some of the best soccer players in the world will be playing on the biggest stage in June 2015.

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Canada, has stirred up some controversy, or what some have referred to as the “Turf War.”

When the host of the World Cup worked together with FIFA to make all of the various playing sites artificial turf instead of natural grass, the women’s soccer world blew up.

Current players, former players, coaches and other professionals have made it clear they shouldn’t play the games on turf because it is considered gender discrimination.

At the men’s World Cup last summer, all of the games were played on natural grass, which is a considerably different and softer surface. It is also a surface the teams train and play on.

2012 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Wambach has spoken out on numerous occasions about how this would never happen at a men’s event.

Wambach and other influential players took legal action against the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario — claiming gender discrimination — but FIFA fought back and said playing on artificial turf is allowed according to its rules.

Because of time sensitivity, Wambach and the players dropped the case.

In addition to the men not having to play on turf, the players argued the physical conditions can be damaging as well.

Due to Wambach’s rough-and-tough style of play, the forward is more susceptible injuries on the harsher turf.

Turf can cause more sprained ankles, concussions and turf burns from sliding for the ball which is a common thing for high-level competitors to do, according to the American Academy of Neurology.

Not only do they cause physical injuries, but the actual flow of the game is altered because of the different surface material.

The speed is affected and random patches of turf buildup can create a sometimes bumpy service for the ball to travel on.

The turf also gets hotter than natural grass and holds heat longer. On numerous occasions, I have found myself with extremely hot feet just from standing on the turf too long.

Sometimes, I’ll find melted plastic turf beads on the bottom of my cleats after practice.

As a Belmont women’s soccer player, I am fine with the different surface because I am used to it as we play all of our home games on turf at E.S Rose Park.

However, I understand going from natural grass to turf is a big difference, and these high-caliber players deserve the respect their male counterparts receive.

Again, these are powerful and successful women who are playing at the biggest tournament of their careers.

They fought to get here so they have every right to fight for equality and earn it.

Sports editor Emily Proud is a junior journalism major.

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