One of the biggest challenges in American football, both amateur and professional, is the lack of quality, football-specific pitches.
The only options are to share a field with all of the other notable mid-level sports teams in town or to play on an abandoned piece of grass with heavy wear and minimal seating.
And yet we wonder why we strive to produce high quality footballers.
There are many professional soccer teams in the United States that play on fields that would be considered a travesty if they were: a) a European club or b) playing another sport in that country besides soccer.
Is there a sport that has to face so many obstacles on the court just to compete?
There’s a ton of idiosyncrasies out there – let’s use the worst of the worst to create the most unplayable terrain imaginable. Her name? Frankenstein Field.
Frankenstein pitch – the worst football pitch imaginable
Overwhelming American Football Features (and Everything That Comes With It)
We are AMERICAN football and we need BIG numbers and MASSIVE goalposts and don’t forget the THICKEST touchlines you’ve ever seen.
This is the story of the birth of American football stadiums, and when it comes to playing other sports on the same field, they always have to meet the needs of football.
The yellow uprights loom dangerously close to the field, as they perch above the goal’s white crossbar (which post did the ball hit?). And the rest of the pitch is dominated by the various hash marks, lines, and numbers that populate the pitch – all thick and white, of course.
Those thin yellow lines? They are for soccer.
Don’t forget the grass either. Lack of maintenance requires the majority of football fields to be sown with plastic turf, and this football-specific artificial turf is woefully insufficient for kicking-based play.
Every bounce of a soccer ball is amplified to the extreme, jumping as if the game is being played in torrential rain. In short, possession football becomes obsolete in these conditions because controlling and playing the ball becomes almost impossible.
Could soccer turf be the real reason American football lags so far behind the rest of the world?
A badly covered baseball infield
Another unique set of circumstances – I don’t know of any football team that plays on a field that simultaneously has a baseball mound and a set of football posts, but here at The18 we play by our own rules.
There are several professional football clubs in this beautiful country that play in minor league baseball stadiums namely Union Omaha and New Mexico United.
During the day it doesn’t look bad, but at night the infield dirt and the removed pitch mound becomes more noticeable (not to mention the oddly off-center camera angle).
To be fair, there isn’t really a right way to do it unless you decide not to change a thing and look like the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders around 2010 (really a hideous sight), so maybe just get a new stadium?
Embed from Getty Images
On the plus side, at least they’ve removed the pitch mound.
More lines than you could ever imagine
Is it really a grass multisport field if you don’t spend the first five minutes of your viewing experience trying to figure out what lines make up the football field?
A trip to my local NPSL stadium – which hosts everything from high school lacrosse to men’s football to ultimate frisbee – has no less than five different colored lines on the pitch. And even as a regular visitor to this area, maybe I could tell you what three of these colors are for.
It works when you want to be able to host 27 different sporting events, but not when you want the best viewing experience for just one.
Running track dangerously close to the sideline
What this field really lacked was impending danger, so let’s add some.
I don’t know if a multisport stadium has ever been designed with football as a priority. The setup works for football as there is about ten meters between the football boundaries and the start of the track. But the average distance from the edge of the football field to the start of the red running rubber can usually only be measured in feet – often 1 or 2 feet at most.
There’s barely room to make a throw-in, but trying to stop a ball from going out? Almost impossible without risking your football career.
While this is not a uniquely American issue (Rome’s Stadio Olimpico is also surrounded by a track), another by-product of this setup is that the pitch is further away from the stands, putting the players at a disadvantage. viewers at home and in the stands.