Play at Night: The Need for Field Lights
By Nick Jackson
High School sports have the ability to bring communities together. This communal bonding is due to in large part to students and members of the area congregating at primetime hours to watch their friends and family compete in sports representing the town. If Novato High were to add lights like our neighbors at San Marin, there could be a large increase in support and enthusiasm for the teams of Novato High.
San Marin recently got approved to add lights to their stadium. They gained approval in a hotly-contested community vote. Many of the neighbors surrounding San Marin High School were strongly against the idea of having lights, largely due to the fears of loud noise and light pollution.
Novato High is located in a residential area and many neighbors seem to also be largely against installing field lights.
Greg Fister is Novato High School's Assistant Principal and interim Athletic Director.
“Currently the proximity from the field to the houses prevents us from having lights,” explained Fister. “It would disturb the neighbors and the community.”
Many students at Novato High seem to be strongly in favor of installing field lights.
Roya Manshouri is a junior cheerleader at Novato High and believes lights would help create more spirit.
“I definitely think we need field lights because it's part of the spirit of the school, being able to go out on friday nights,” explained Manshouri. “It's just fun to have night games.”
The installation of field lights would benefit all sports that use the artificial-turf field. Varsity sports, such as lacrosse and soccer, are forced to play their games at 4:30 or earlier, due to concerns about daylight running out. This early start time is a conflict, as the American workday does not end until 5 p.m., making it extremely difficult or impossible for many parents to support their children’s teams.
Longtime social studies teacher and former varsity football coach Jason Searle provided some insight on this topic.
“Most of the groundwork is done, so it is just the poles and the lights that we would need,” explained Searle. “It’s probably close to a million dollars...If you get the best stuff you actually create a lot less light pollution so outside of the actual stadium it would be pretty dark.”
Searle also described some of the challenges NHS has faced with attempting to put in field lights.
“There are a number of community members and neighbors that would be directly affected by having night games,” said Searle. “Their biggest concerns are probably noise, and they generally have concerns regarding crime or anything related.”
The idea of bringing field lights to Novato High is not a new one. The Marin IJ previously reported that the NUSD board of trustees considered adding lights to both Novato high schools in 2009. However, this stirred up controversy in the community. In 2009, this idea was supported by the funds needed coming from a $107 million bond that was passed by residents of Novato. This is important because Novato recently passed a $222 million bond measure (Measure G), that was meant to upgrade academic and athletic facilities. San Marin’s new field lights and an upgraded public-address system are expected to cost under 1.3 million dollars. This is worth every penny. Novato High should have strongly considered doing the same thing.