By Michael Kaplan
Thirty-eight thousand dollars can save the lives of 3,800 families in Africa. A program called Nothing But Nets takes a $10 donation to purchase a net that they will distribute to a family in Africa, protecting them against mosquitoes carrying the malaria virus, an epidemic that kills over a million people a year in Africa.
So what relevance does this have to our school?
Thirty-eight thousand dollars also happens to be the cost that it took to install monstrous, unsightly nets draped around Slavin Field so that the lacrosse team can practice on a better field in the afternoons. The nets are designed to protect those running around the track from the hard rubber lacrosse ball that, when shot poorly, would fly at high velocities past the small lacrosse goal and into the path of unsuspecting runners.
Head of Athletics Audrius Barzdukas feels that it is time to advance the lacrosse program to a higher level, and I am not criticizing his decision.
Lacrosse deserves to get the same treatment as any other sport at Harvard-Westlake, but these nets are an example of the administration spending its money superfluously on unnecessary luxuries, money that could be put to numerous better uses.
Before these nets were installed, the lacrosse teams played their games at school on the weekends and the track had to remain closed. They also practiced on the sprawling field at Van Nuys Park.
Many lacrosse players have told me that the reason for the installment of these nets was because the field at Van Nuys was causing too many injuries and this way they could use the schoolâs field.
Head of Intercampus Operations Jim DeMatte, however, said that this was not a factor of motivation for the new nets and that they were put up to advance the lacrosse program and give lacrosse more practice time since they now donât have to travel to their practice facility.
But 15 minutes of extra practice time isnât going to make a significant change in a programâs success, and neither is an artificial turf surface compared to a grass surface.
Even if it does, are a few more wins worth the $38,000 and the new eyesore on campus that these 42 towering metal pillars create? Is it worth it even if it only helps such a select group of people?
I admire the Athletic Departmentâs decision to support this sport that has become so popular across the country, but these nets arenât going to make a difference.
They are unnecessary. The lacrosse program could have gotten along just fine without them.Â
The reality is itâs too late now. The money has already been spent. Yet I ask the administration the next time it wants to spend $38,000 on nets, at least use them to help someone.