Editor's Desk - September 2008
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Looking Down

here are so many things that we regularly take for granted, expecting them to perform their unsung duties day after day without ever giving them a second thought. If you think about it for a minute, you begin to see that it's all around you-things operating independently that you just expect and accept without a second glance: weekly garbage and (hopefully) recycle pickup, daily mail delivery, the school bus, working stoplights, and the list goes on and on.

But occasionally, there's a hiccup that wakes you up. You might not think twice about turning on the bathroom light every day, until you lose power during a storm. (We recently lost power for three hours during an electrical storm that delivered more lightning strikes in a four-hour period than the Chicago area typically sees in six months.). Suddenly, you wake up and realize that some of those things you take for granted aren't the perfect systems you took them for.

Take sports fields, playground safety surfaces, basketball courts and so on. They're under our feet when we play soccer or football, when we watch our kids climb on the playground, or when we enjoy a game of basketball from the spectator's stands. We don't always consider the complex decision-making involved in selecting the best surface for these applications: one that provides the best performance for the players, one that provides the most safety for the children and teams, one that is economical but will give us a long-lasting solution, one whose maintenance requirements our staffs are capable of handling.

Even though I read regularly about surfaces of all kinds, I've found myself guilty, taking for granted that the playground surface is safe while my 2-year-old climbs and slides. This weekend, I noticed for the first time that the wood chips under the swings and slide runouts were probably not adequately deep, so I took a moment to redistribute the chips with my foot as best I could.

Here in these pages, we're providing a closer look at what many of your patrons may take for granted, just like I took the safety of our playground for granted. It's your job to be their eyes and ears, to wade through the pros and cons of each type of surface for each application, and then to choose the best option, so that when players and parents take it for granted that you've chosen the safest, most appropriate material, they won't be unpleasantly surprised.


Emily Tipping

Editorial Director