Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘fields’

Football should be played on grass, period.

Posted by sanityinjection on March 18, 2010

When artificial turf playing fields were first introduced they were hailed as a great breakthrough. They allowed sports such as football to be played indoors, or on fields that held up better in snow or rain, and promised to save money on field maintenance as well.

However, in the 80s and early 90s, it was alleged that these AstroTurf fields led to more injuries to players because of the hard surface and players’ shoes catching in the turf and sticking rather than ripping up a divot. The 90s saw a movement among NFL teams away from turf and back to natural grass.

Then a new generation of artificial turf was developed, combining a springy rubber surface with strands of artificial grass designed to behave more like a natural field. This “FieldTurf” also has been touted as being environmentally friendly because it can be made from recycled tires. Since 2000, it has been adopted for many football fields from high school up to the pros, including 9 NFL stadiums, especially for indoor facilities where grass was not a viable option. Again, the artifical surface promised to save money on maintenance.

But now the injury argument has resurfaced. After studying six years of NFL games,  an NFL panel has concluded that a particularly serious type of injury – to the anterior curcial ligament or ACL – is 88 percent more likely on FieldTurf than on grass. Also, serious ankle sprains were 32 percent more likely on FieldTurf.

Defenders of FieldTurf point out that there could be a number of contributing factors such as what type of shoes are being worn on the turf.  But if you ask the players themselves, their opinion is clear: Their 4 favorite NFL fields to play on are all grass – despite the widely shared view that a turf field facilitates extra yardage for offensive skill players.

Also, one of the main reasons for the development of artificial turf is disappearing. With modern stadiums that feature retractable roofs, it has become possible to maintain grass fields in an indoor facility, as Arizona and Dallas have demonstrated.

Of course, stadiums with FieldTurf are not suddenly going to rip it out and replace it with grass, at significant expense. But I believe that for a new stadium, or one that needs to replace its current surface, the arguments for grass are compelling. The sport began on grass and was played exclusively on grass for decades. Modern technology is better put to use making grass fields better and easier to maintain than trying to invent substitutes for what nature does best – growing grass.


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