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Safety Concerns Over New High School Football Field

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Several Little Rock parents are taking a stand out of concern for their children's safety, calling the conditions on the new football field at McClellan High School dangerous. 

The team played its first home game on the field Friday night, and parents say it's already covered in divots and mud patches. 

"No one wants their child playing on a field like that," said Sarah Hendrix, whose son is a senior on the team. "It is not safe. I mean look how high the grass is and then we've got holes and mud patches."

Instead of enjoying Friday night's game, Hendrix says she couldn't stop worrying about what could happen if her son hit one of the ditches in the field or fell onto one of the elevated, metal drain covers on the sidelines. 

"Every play, every hit, I get nervous something could happen," she said. "Your heart's in your throat." 

Hendrix wants to know why the Little Rock School District allows children to play on the field. 

"What if they get injured for life? These aren't professional players," she added. 

The field is the result of a $350,000 project since the old one was in such disrepair the team couldn't play at home for nearly two years. Over the summer the district tore up the old field, leveled the dirt, put down new sod, added new drainage. 

In an interview with Superintendent Mike Poore earlier this week, he said the district was pleased with the results and the field met all safety requirements. 

"If they put $350,000 they were ripped off," said Andrea Williams, who has two sons on the team. "It still floods if it rains. It still has pot holes in it. We bought new shoes, different cleats, because my oldest said newer cleats would do better in potholes."
Williams isn't buying the district saying the team will get better turf in two years when the high school moves to the new Southwest High building. 

"I'm grateful for Southwest High. We need a new school over here. But this does nothing for us now. We need a solution now," she said.

Many players, like Hendrix's son, can't afford to be sidelined for a season. 

"He's got good grades. He could get a football scholarship. Not if he gets hurt out here. Then who's going to pay for college?" Hendrix questioned. 

According to the school district the divots will be filled in before the team's next home game Friday. 

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