Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Editorial -- South Nodaway Gym Turns Into Ice Skating Rink

The floor at South Nodaway Tuesday night was like an ice skating rink at times, creating treacherous conditions for players for both North Nodaway and South Nodaway.

This has nothing to do with the outcome; the Mustangs lost both games. The girls hung gamely with one of the elite teams of the area in South Nodaway, held down future Northwest commit Mallory McConkey, and stuck with them for two and a half quarters before the floodgates opened and they lost 69-39. The South Nodaway boys are a much better team than the squad that lost 86-23 to Worth County. Against North Nodaway, they took the ball out top early and repeatedly froze the ball, only moving it around when they had to; the game slowed to a crawl. North Nodaway did not respond well to South Nodaway's stalling tactics and fell 51-25.

But the issue is player safety; we would be writing this if the scores had been reversed and North Nodaway had won. Playing conditions were bad during the girls game; players had to be careful to avoid slipping and sliding on the playing surface. Playing conditions got worse during the course of the evening; by the time the boys game started, players from both sides were slipping and sliding all over the floor as moisture was forming on the floor.

While the administration did a good job telling people to stay off the floor, that did not solve the problem, as there were slick spots on the east area, where there is hardly any foot traffic during the game. On the west end, Mustang guard Peyton Coleman repeatedly fell trying to drive at the west basket during the first half. On the east end, there were instances where South Nodaway players were slipping and falling on the slick floor near the baseline area, including one time when Longhorn player Logan Harlan slipped, fell, and was shaken up and North Nodaway player Cole Bird stuck behind to help him up and make sure he was OK.

When the teams switched sides for the second half, things did not get much better. There were multiple times where players from both teams were slipping and falling, especially on the east end near the baseline area, including one time where two Longhorn players tripped and fell following a defensive board, tripped up Peyton Coleman, and the officials called Coleman for a foul.

The bottom line is that this game should not have been played, regardless of the outcome or the score. The safety of the players has got to come first. We understand that schools in the area have tight budgets, but if a school is unwilling or unable to provide for the safety of both sides' players at athletic events, then they need to rethink the value of offering athletics.

Schools call off games all the time due to treacherous roads during basketball season or muddy fields during softball and baseball seasons. And schools stop games all the time during football season or track when there is lightning. We understand there is inherent risk in playing any sport, but it should be no different when it comes to playing surfaces; if one person is injured or could be injured because of unsafe playing conditions as opposed to the inherent risk of playing sports, then it is not worth playing the contest.

On a related note, the Worth County School Board and Administration did the right thing when they put in the new gym floor and bleachers this year. The old floor and bleachers served the school well for 60 years, but the wear and tear on the floor was getting to the point where it would create a hazard for athletes playing on it if it were let go for too long. Players were not slipping and sliding on the floor during Monday's games with Mount Ayr despite people tracking in snow and mud from the outside; the new floor held up well. The point is that the games should be decided by the players on the floor, not by unsafe playing conditions for both schools.

No comments: