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OUR VIEW: Artificial surface unnecessary for state soccer

We admittedly only have a casual knowledge of soccer. We generally understand how it's played and a few of the rules, but we don't know much about high-level soccer or the kinds of playing fields teams at high levels generally use.

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We spent about six minutes on the website YouTube Monday afternoon, hoping to gather some background on the World Cup, the great soccer tournament to determine the world's best team.

What we really wanted to know was this: Do World Cup teams play on natural grass fields, or do they play on artificial surfaces?

At least according to a six-minute clip titled "World Cup 2010 highlights," they play on natural grass. By the looks of it, they do this almost exclusively.

So, backed by our simple fact-finding mission, we wonder how the South Dakota High School Activities Association can, with a straight face, tell Mitchell that its great new soccer complex may not be adequate for state high school tournaments beyond 2015.

Saturday, we reported that the SDHSAA has updated its state event hosting guidelines. The association has declared that facilities with artificial surfaces will be preferred over grass, at least after 2016.

Mitchell hosted the tournament in recent years, and is scheduled to host again in 2014 and 2015. After that, who knows?

As we noted, the tournament games in the World Cup appear to be played mostly, if not entirely, on grass. Further, in our report Saturday, we noted there are 18 Major League Soccer stadiums, and all but three have natural grass fields.

Locally, Dakota Wesleyan University plays on a grass field. So does Mitchell High School and Mitchell Christian. They always have, rain or shine.

This means that the massive $2 million Pepsi Soccer Complex — completed in 2010 — already will become obsolete, at least in the eyes of the SDHSAA.

This is the same agency that has declared the great Corn Palace inadequate to host state basketball tournament games. The SDHSAA does this even after last year's Class AA girls' basketball tournament in Rapid City famously featured thousands of empty seats.

So, we ask: If artificial surfaces are to be required, where could the state soccer tournaments be held beyond 2016?

Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Aberdeen, we assume.

Huh. Go figure.

Mitchell soccer fans and business owners — hotels, restaurants and such — should be livid that this is even a possibility.

We are.