Southern California has a serious problem: Rain.
No, we're actually serious. In the CIF Bowl Games played at the Home Depot Center over the weekend, Northern California teams dominated ... thoroughly. They did it in rain, mud and overwhelming slop, conditions fairly traditional for football, but which are also much more common in Northern California than the Los Angeles area. In the opinion of at last one sports writer, that constituted an unfair advantage that the CIF needs to account for in future seasons.
The writer who made the claim is the Los Angeles Times' Eric Sondheimer. As the video above shows, Sondheimer has a point, too. Soccer "pitches" are designed to retain a fine layer of water to help make the ball and players move across the turf more easily as both slide forward. Instead of that ideal field performance, the Home Depot Center turf soaked up everything that fell on it, devolving into a mud bath and general football trough.
As it stands, Northern California teams are a lot more accustomed to rain than teams in Southern California, where consecutive days of precipitation practically mark a monsoon.
Here's how the ever-more artful Sondheimer puts it:
Yes, it was fair to all the teams. But the Northern California schools are used to playing in the rain. The Southern California schools are not. That doesn't mean you cancel a championship game because it's raining. It means the CIF needs to find an all-weather field with enough seating capacity to make people feel comfortable and let the players perform at a high level.
For his part, Sondheimer had a Southern California alternative to the Home Depot Center in mind: East Los Angeles College, which hosts one of the nation's best rivalry games -- the East LA Classic -- between Garfield (Calif.) High and Roosevelt (Calif.) High each fall.
Perhaps more notably, Sondheimer even advocates a potential move of the games back to Northern California rather than continuing to host them in the Home Depot Center. As he points out, at least there fans have no problem watching a game in the rain.
So, was the past weekend's deluge an exceptional event, or a sign of a more significant lack of foresight? For one thing, the rain total over the weekend was exceptional. Saturday saw 1.33 inches of rainfall in the Los Angeles area, a total which is more than half of the the annual average monthly rainfall for December, which is a pretty strong indication that the flooded, muddy field fans saw on Saturday wasn't an everyday occurrence.
Still, expectations should never be a justification for a sub-par field for a state championship game, particularly in an area known for eternal sunshine. Whether one year's experience is enough to move away from an otherwise ideally suited site is another question, for people far more involved with the CIF than Sondheimer or we here at Prep Rally.
- Northern California
- Southern California