Jones Needs A Face Lift
Past north quad, beyond Philips Gymnasium, behind the parking lot and looking like an abandoned warehouse where a fight club might arise, Jones Field House begs the students for a facelift.
Upon entry, the broken glass from a misplaced shot, unfortunate bounce or foul-tipped ball greets you with a crunch as anyone who walks in is bound to step on a previous error.
Heat blasts you head on and as you look up at the broken air conditioning system, leaking mystery fluid smacks you in the face. It presents a harsh reminder that time has worn the building down and that Jones, like those who play inside its walls, wishes to enhance its appearance.
The scream from an individual whose ankle has found itself on the losing side of a battle with the turf echoes off the wall. Jones again insists that it needs some type of plastic surgery.
Few athletes can say that Jones helps to increase their skill or level of play. Its lack of size, space and ventilation are reminders that the school itself gives little to an athletics department that has began to show real signs of improvement and direction over the last few years.
Envision 22 men trying to play soccer simultaneously on a field that can be stretched no longer than 45 yards long and 35 yards across. It is the equivalent of pushing as many people as possible into a phone booth, crammed and utterly ridiculous.
The men’s lacrosse team felt the impact of Jones’s deterioration earlier this season. Having practiced in the cramped space for weeks, the first time that they had the chance to endure a full-field opportunity was their first game of the season against Ohio Wesleyan, an 8-20 loss. With better preparation and up-to-standard facilities, the Yeomen could have had more of an opportunity against their opposition who had been able to practice on a full field for the majority of their preseason.
I recently attended a tryout with a soccer team for the summer, hosted in the University of Akron field house. Entering the facility, I was awestruck by the beauty and sheer professionalism of the building itself. Granted, Oberlin is not as committed to designating $80 million for a new field house as Akron is, nor should it be. But it was an awakening experience for someone who has become accustomed to the modest and low-budget facilities that Oberlin provides.
New turf, unbroken glass, ventilation and, most notably, the standard 120 by 65 yard field highlighted what every athlete desires. Those were the traits of the facility I drooled over, wishing that I had such a place to hone my skills.
I understand that it would be ridiculous to build a whole new facility as Akron has done, but what could be wrong with laying down new turf that would not bite the ankle and cause damage, or upgrading a ventilation system that no longer works?
The athletes, who have to share Jones from 4:30 in a winter afternoon until 12:30 at night, deserve better. Their commitment to priding themselves in representing Oberlin is apparent. The college, unable to reciprocate the pride shown by its athletes, needs to start realizing that the minimum is no longer acceptable, and needs to listen to the omnipresent voice of Jones Field House as it calls for renovations.