This year, Cal’s field hockey team entered the season without a facility for home games due to ongoing construction on a parking structure in the previous location of the team’s field. In August, the team learned that no facility equipped for practices was available on campus and that the team would potentially not have a home field next season either. While the plans for the 2015 season are not finalized, the campus must take field hockey’s needs into account when considering the possibility of allocating the space on top of the parking structure to the football team for practice space.
Cal’s field hockey team was informed that its home field, Maxwell Family Field, would be under construction while an underground parking garage was built. The team was already aware that it would have to play its games on the road this season, but it was under the impression that it would have a practice field on campus and that it would have a new home field on top of the parking garage for the 2015 season. When the team found out that not only did it not have a practice field this season but that talks were ongoing about possibly giving the space on top of the structure to the football team, three players hired an attorney with Equal Rights Advocates and are now considering filing a Title IX lawsuit against UC Berkeley.
While Cal Athletics has not made a formal announcement on the space issue, it has stated that addressing field hockey’s needs is one of its top concerns and that it has been working to find a solution for some time. We hope the final proposal will either allocate the space to the field hockey team or will present a thorough explanation as to why the football team has a greater need for the space than the field hockey team.
The team members have already been severely impacted: Traveling to Stanford for practice conflicts with players taking morning classes. One student who had expected to graduate in December will not earn her diploma until the spring because she had to drop two morning classes.
On one hand, the prioritization of football is understandable: The sport brings in substantial profits to the campus, and football culture in the United States is more widespread and prevalent than that of many other sports. In the past, the football team has been given preference over other sports: When Memorial Stadium was under construction, the Witter Rugby Field was assigned to football practice. This forced the rugby team to travel for every game and left the team only half of a field for practice.
The football team already has a practice facility, and it cannot share a field with the field hockey team because of different turf requirements. If the campus decides to allocate the space above the new parking structure to an additional football practice facility, it must demonstrate an immediate and substantial need for doing so.
We hope that whichever action the campus ultimately takes, it will consider the impact on the members of the field hockey team not only as players but as students.