The soiled thoughts of an aspiring superintendent

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A costly money saver November 24, 2009

Filed under: DTM 1500 (Turf Communications) Semester One — Graham J. Wieja @ 8:14 am

Sports fields have been around for centuries. Since the dawn of modern civilization, competition has existed and has always required adequate playing surfaces. Fast forward to modern times where numerous professional sports require professionally maintained playing surfaces. Take for instance baseball, rugby, golf, lacrosse, cricket, lawn bowling, and my personal favourite, football. I was always told that football is not a contact sport, it is a collision sport. The playing field certainly exemplifies that after each and every NFL football game. Thus, artificial turf was introduced to team owners as a revolutionary new way to save on stadium maintenance costs. The synthetic turf, commonly referred to as astroturf, was first introduced on a national stage when it was installed in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. It requires far less maintenance and has only a few slight drawbacks. It bakes anyone who dare stand on it in the heat, and is directly linked to several career ending injuries. Other than that, it seems fine to me.

The NFL is undergoing severe scrutiny due to released reports about retired players showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Repetitive blows to the head as one would see on any play from the line of scrimmage in the NFL is similar to what a veteran boxer would experience during their career. Amongst the ideas to promote a safer game is the examination of the helmet. However, there is no mention of the synthetic fields which are described as carpet on concrete. Not only does it lead to direct injuries such as turf toe, skin abrasions are extremely common.

I understand that the NFL is a business. Decisions are made to accentuate two things, income and championships. NFL team owner’s are opting for artificial turf fields because of reduced maintenance costs. The field can be used more often and generate more revenue. But at what cost? The players suffer prolonged injuries. Injuries that commonly nag them for the rest of their lives. It is a proven fact that professional football teams have more major knee injuries on artificial turf when compared to natural grass. It’s time the NFL takes a stand on this issue and eliminates synthetic fields for the benefit of its’ players.

synthetic field composition

*** Some quick facts about synthetic turf ***

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One Response to “A costly money saver”

  1. Owen Says:

    I agree that synthetic turf has its downsides. But where’s the compromise? Playing on a subpar field in poor conditions can also cause injuries, not to mention harm the game’s quality. How can managers keep a natural field together (particularly football) in the face of heavy or constant rain?

    Great visuals on this post, by the way. And it’s very well written. Nice work.


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