Opinion: Let the lights shine at high schools’ football fields

By MICHAEL LETENDRE
STAFF WRITER
In a few weeks, the fall scholastic sports season will be upon us and all of its teams – including football – will take the fields for the 2013 campaign.
In fact, some of our fine athletes are already getting into preseason form and a football team or three has hit the fields in Bristol.
But I want to go back to something I’ve touched upon over recent years in writing sports for the Bristol Observer.
It’s about Bristol Eastern getting lights for its football fields, an endeavor that still has a full head of steam and, truly is so important to sports in our city.
And that fact is something people don’t – or can’t – understand.
The most common question is why do they need lights at Bristol Eastern when they have them at Muzzy Field?
Can’t you just keep playing football down there and forget about this issue?
What about the money…it’s not cheap. (Next week, we’ll find out how close Eastern is in getting those lights and how the fundraising efforts are proceeding.)
Sure, the Lancers can keep playing down at Muzzy and there’s no problem with that.
But there’s a bigger picture here and with the addition with sports such as lacrosse and the like, field usage is at an all-time high in the Mum City.
And if you’re going to use valuable property in town for doggy walking (and doggy pooping), time to make the fields we have useable right now not just in the afternoon but during evening hours as well.
Hence, lights on the main Eastern field.
I endorse it, not just because I am aproduct of Bristol Eastern, but our athletes deserve to be in the spotlight on its own campus.
Plus, the sports command such a venue like most of the other towns has that are not named Terryville.
As stated before, the venue at Eastern is tailor made for football, soccer, and the like with a concession stand, bathrooms, fenced in field, etc.
Sure, you somehow have to add more seating (by the way, when Berlin comes to town for its football game on Sept. 13 against Eastern, I hope all those fans – and there’s going to be a TON of fans – bring their blankets for their “hillside viewing” pleasure) but the additions, outside of the lights, won’t be that extreme. 
And that lit field wouldn’t just be used for football.
Wouldn’t it be cool to see lacrosse play a little night time game?
The program certain deserves it.
How about a night track meet between Bristol Eastern and Central?
That would be cool.
I’m still disappointed we can’t have a night softball game on the Central or Eastern campus (that’s a whole other story and a whole other bank of lights needed for one of the schools to make that a reality…).
That would also be an outstanding possibility.
Plus the school spirit, the school pride…it all factors into a home field advantage the Eastern football, soccer, track, and lacrosse programs could all use and enjoy.
It’s an advantage the football team has only been able to enjoy three times in its collective history and that simply isn’t enough.
Look, we have too much going on as it is on vastly overworked fields and some of the conditions of them are not very good to begin with.
That situation has to improve and quickly.
How about looking at the job the Catholic high school is doing in town in terms of fields and the like?
You can point at St. Paul – yes, that’s another situation entirely – and look at how its sports complex is slowly changing.
And for that school, those upgrades are going to improve that whole sports situation down on that campus 10-fold.
It takes time to implement changes but in Bristol, it really seems that we’re at a snail’s pace here.
And I’m not attacking anyone…I just know that we could just do so much better than we’ve shown to date.
We have so many sports now in town and the growth of lacrosse has proven the fact that we need to make some changes and grow a little more quickly.
I know there are some plans in the works to look at the field problems in our town and some viable recommendations to have better conditions for usage will soon be made.
A committee like that would be welcomed in Bristol, that’s for sure.
And with Chris Cassin coming in as the new athletic director in town that’s a big boost for Bristol right off the bat.
Cassin, a former coach at Bristol Eastern, is a take charge kind of guy who will probably have some pretty good ideas about things that need changing and the like.
I sound like a broken record here but I’m so sick and tired of going to venues like Wethersfield, Conard, Rocky Hill, or Hall and saying to myself, “Why doesn’t Bristol have this” or “What are we doing wrong?”
Middletown’s field, behind its school, is simply outstanding as well.
Hopefully, new changes are coming down the pike and with a new blood in place in terms of “athletic leadership” at the top, I feel Bristol can get right back on track with some of those other towns.
We don’t need wholesale changes in town because Bristol has all the tools.
But getting our athletic programs back on track – in terms of facilities – isn’t too much too ask, is it?
NOTES…Don’t forget that the Bristol Eastern soccer teams will also play at home for the first time ever under the lights on Tuesday, Sept. 10 as the teams battle Farmington in a CCC Interdivisional tilt. The girls game gets underway at 5:30 pm with the boys to follow at 7:15 p.m.