Saturday, November 8, 2014

The case of Dr. Turf and the Cowardly Judge

It sounds like something out of Encyclopedia Brown, but it is really an ESPN and Forbes article I caught the other day.

We of course are dealing with the case where the CSA and FIFA want to use artificial surfaces for the Women's World Cup coming up in 2015 and the ladies will have none of it. Honestly, they shouldn't either and I support their position. Every other World Cup has been played on grass, why not this one? The surface changes The Game without question.

Where this starts to get funny is the manner in which the matter is being brought ... as a gender discrimination case. Now the lawyer in me gets it as it would be really hard to make a legal argument around "Hey you are doing this because it is makes more economic sense as CFL teams play here too and its expensive to upkeep grass versus a synthetic."

Yes folks, shockingly this is about the money.

Now the ladies have a viable complaint as I said, albeit a poor vehicle to bring it as, I'm sorry, playing on a synthetic is not a gender issue as it affects both equally. There were a couple of other things that stood out to me in this brouhaha as well:

From this ESPN W article, even the human rights folks are cowering from this fight. From the article:

"Given the jurisdictional complexity of this case, I am far from certain that it would be possible to ... render a decision on the merits within a few months," Jo-Anne Pickel, vice chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, wrote in her decision Friday, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.

For those uninitiated to double speak, this is saying the Human Rights Tribunal does not want anything to do with it as all, tacitly supporting my premise this has nothing to do with discrimination. If this was a real human rights issue, believe me, they would be a part of it.

Funniest part was FIFA charging to the rescue and providing an "expert" on the matter. His findings, and appropriate commentary, were found in Forbes in "FIFA Roll Out Their "Rug Doctor" In Women's World Cup Turf War". From that article:

To quote from Professor Harrison’s bio provided for the Geneva 2014 International Sports Convention he studied for a B.Sc. in Polymer Science at Liverpool University; was a Textile Technologist; completed a Ph. D at Loughborough; worked in Polymeric Materials; helped to develop Sport Surfaces (notice the capitalization) and worked in Industrial Flooring.

Rather than an expert who might be able to provide a balanced view FIFA instead opted for the equivalent of having Dracula speak on the need for more blood banks.

Don't wan't to provide a grass surface year round? NO PROBLEM! Provide a modular grass surface for just the World Cup. Anyone remember 1994 here in the US where FIFA refused to play on a synthetic surface? How did we solve that? We had octagons of grass that were pieced together for the matches and moved onto the synthetic surface. After matches, they were moved out in the sun to keep form. Problem solved!!

Let's face it, any World Cup should be played on grass. It's not about the gender, it's not about the money, it's about The Game and honoring it for how it was and should be played.

Can we all just agree on that? 

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