Coin toss

WHAT ABOUT FOOTBALL -- The implications for the Haywood County Clash amid a shortened football season are one of the biggest questions about the NCHSAA's plan to restart high school sports for the 2020-21 school year. 

At this month’s meeting, the Haywood County Board of Commissioners officially approved spending $1.3 million in state lottery funds to design and replace the artificial turf on the football fields for Tuscola (Doug Brooks Field at C.E. Weatherby Stadium) and Pisgah (Pisgah Memorial Stadium).

The funds will be transferred to the county disbursing account in the State Treasurer’s Office on July 31 and will become available Aug. 2.

The turf replacement project was first announced at a school board meeting in March 2019, with an original allocation of $1.1 million in state lottery funds. The schools’ grass fields were replaced with the artificial turf in 2008.

The school system has been saving a portion of its annual allocation of state lottery funds (around $450,000 to $500,000) for 12 years in anticipation of replacing the turf. Artificial turf lasts 10 to 12 years; Tuscola and Pisgah have played 13 years on theirs.

While the turf is still safe for teams to play on, repairs over the years have led to hard spots on the field, and there are worn patches where teams perform drills.

Artificial turf does not offer any cost advantages over grass, though it is easier to maintain (no mowing or reseeding). The main advantages come in the form of not requiring lengthy delays to play on after bad weather and a lack of wear and tear with heavy use. It’s also safer for players to play on.

The turf was originally set to be ready for this upcoming season, but was delayed to the following year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision that has proved wise as the start of the fall sports season in North Carolina has been delayed until at least Sept. 1

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