Cancellation Guidelines for Athletic Fields

Play under wet conditions is definitely the most limiting factor to providing quality athletic fields. Since early on, the Parks & Recreation Department and the numerous youth athletic associations have sought some useful standard for cancellation of play based on excess soil moisture. 

First, the policy began  with an agronomist’s test for soil plasticity and its ability to be harmed due to compaction. For example, if a clump of soil from the surface of the field can be pressed into a ball, it is plastic. This was quickly perceived as a problem due to the number of early and late season cancellations. The policy then moved through “wet and squishy” (same problem–high number of cancellations) and then to canceling only when standing water was visible. The latter was a problem as field conditions quickly deteriorated as too many games and practices were played under wet conditions and the turf damage was irreversible. 

The department along with the Columbia Soccer Club, the Diamond Council of Columbia and the Columbia Youth Football League has formulated the current cancellation policy and has been using it successfully for the past 15 years:

City of Columbia will not allow play under field moisture conditions that contribute to unsafe play or that would damage the fields and significantly lessen their safety and suitability for future play. No play is to take place when the soil moisture is so high that there is standing water, or footing is unsure, or grass plants may be readily pulled up by play. 

The Parks & Recreation Department makes a decision on whether to cancel or allow games two hours prior to the scheduled game times. If it should begin to rain within two hours of the game time or during a game, the referee or game official is responsible for making the cancellation. On special tournaments, such as district, state, regional and national tournaments and the Show-Me State Games, the Parks & Recreation Turf Supervisor makes all cancellation decisions.

If teams continue to participate in either a game or practice after the decision to cancel has been made, the team(s) may be responsible for all damages to the field and all player liability. Failure to make restitution for field damages and/or repeated problems may result in the team(s) being prohibited from further participation or use of athletic fields.