Santa Monica High School Softball and Baseball share the same field on campus. An unfair and unsafe situation. How did this happen? The following is a brief history of how this came about.

In the late 1980’s until circa 2005, the Softball Team played at Memorial Park Little League Field, being non-compliant with the 1972 Title 9 Law. The law states; No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Although most institutions are not in compliance with Title 9, no institution has actually lost any federal money. Schools have, however, had to pay substantial damages and attorney fees in cases brought to court.

Title 9 says that athletic program components mandate equal treatment in the provisions of coaching, equipment, game and practice times, practice and competitive facilities, travel and per diem allowances, and tutoring opportunities.

In 2005 a new softball field was built on 7th and Michigan on a student parking lot. In 2010 the field was demolished to make room for the new three-story Innovation Building. At that time, the plan and promise was to build a new 4-million dollar softball field north of the old Technical Building on another existing parking lot. This plan was never intended to be executed, nor the promise intended to be kept. The softball team played at Memorial Park for the next six years while waiting for the field to be built. In 2014 the school district officials decided that “to build the field would be an inefficient use of taxpayers money” and plans for the field were halted.

To become compliant with Title 9, the School District decided to put a softball field in the center field of the baseball field. In 2016 the field was reconfigured and redone and the field was ready for use in 2017. As one player on the 2017 softball team said “I’m excited we are finally getting our own field, but it’s kind of a bummer that we have to share one when we waited for years for our own.”

The field’s drainage system wasn’t done correctly and when it rains, the softball infield becomes a pond. Practicing on the field is unsafe as baseball players can hit into the softball field.

The field at Memorial Park is a well maintained city field with fences, dugouts, scoreboard, parking and stands for fans. The only problem was that players and coaches had to arrange for rides or walk from Samohi (around 11 blocks). Samohi student attendance at weekly games was meager, especially for softball teams that were perennial league champions.

Both parents and players don’t like sharing a field, but the alternative because of Title 9 is problematic. The Samohi Baseball Team has played on that field (Sealy Field named after a former Samohi Baseball Coach) for decades. Through fundraising it has built a coaches office/storage building, batting cages and a scoreboard. It would be sad if the baseball team had to play off campus. It is also difficult to have the softball team have to play off campus after waiting so long for their own field. Obviously the School District has broken promises and messed this up. There are no easy answers, but the existing situation isn’t fair or safe.

Where there is a will there is a way but there doesn’t seem to be a will at the School District to write this wrong.

Larry Arreola is a Santa Monica resident.