STORY BY GRACE ROGERS
Lawsuits have a tendency to trickle down from professional industries to smaller organizations.
However, the decision in an upcoming lawsuit by the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) is not expected to have any impact on Drake University’s soccer team.
In the summer of 2015, the women’s World Cup will be played in Canada on artificial turf fields.
This is the cause behind the USWNT’s lawsuit against FIFA, soccer’s international governing board.
The men’s World Cup was played on grass, and the women’s players wish for the same playing conditions as the men.
So, they are suing, citing gender discrimination issues.
“I don’t believe this lawsuit will have any impact at the university level because at many universities, men’s and women’s soccer teams share facilities, and the surface is usually determined by the climate and need to be durable to constant training,” said Drake women’s soccer coach Lindsay Horner.
Compared to the USWNT, the Drake women’s soccer team has an unusual practice regimen.
The team practices on turf at the Drake Stadium, but their home field is grass at Cownie Soccer Complex.
Most professional teams choose one surface to master, but since colleges have no set standard in relation to turf or grass, it comes down to the university’s discretion.
“We practice every day on turf, but we play on grass because we have to play off-campus because there’s no on-campus stadium for us,” said freshman defender Ali Smith. “That’s kind of different most schools wouldn’t do that.”
The lawsuit is based on the idea that there is a difference between an artificial playing surface and real grass.
“A complaint of the women that signed the lawsuit is that the field surface itself can cause more bruising and cuts through the normal run of play,” Horner said. “There is a picture going around on social media of national team player Sydney Leroux’s legs bruised and cut up from a game on turf, and they believe this wouldn’t happen on grass.”
Smith said she supports the suit because she’s experienced injury to the artificial playing surface.
“Personally, I actually got injured on turf,” Smith said. “I know there’s figures on there being a lot more injuries on turf than grass, but I think it’s really because when you stop, it gives a lot more on grass. When you slip, you’re just going to fall. On turf, there’s no give, so your foot literally gets jammed in it.”
Even if the lawsuit doesn’t create a rule change on Drake’s campus, it could certainly create a mindset shift.
“I like how they’re standing up for themselves because really only in the last 20 years women’s soccer has just gained momentum, ever since we won the World Cup in the U.S.,” Smith said. “It has inspired a lot of girls to play. So I think, for me, just looking up people like Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan and seeing them stick their guns on this issue. Tt’s inspiring.”
Soccer fans have taken notice, too.
Sophomore Stephanie White likes the move even though the suit may not impact anyone at the collegiate level.
She said people should take notice on the underlying impact of taking action.
“It doesn’t matter if you prefer turf or grass, or even whether this lawsuit will impact you, it’s still cool to see these women standing up for themselves,” White said. “It shows girls all over the world that if they think something is unfair, they can change it.”