Let’s start a movement to abolish field turf!
I have long been an opponent of artificial playing surfaces for football stadiums. I’m old school. Football was made to be played on REAL grass not the fake stuff that now is the surface of over 60 major college football stadiums.
I knew the arguments about the “benefits” of fake grass. Field turf is easier to maintain, cheaper, and has better utility. You don’t have to worry about rain, mud and overall maintenance due to the weather elements. And fake grass doesn’t get worn out during the course of the season.
Yes, the newer field turf is better than the original astro turf that was essentially just a green carpet over hard ground. The newer field turf uses crumb rubber from recycled, ground up tires that makes up the infill for synthetic turf fields. It is softer, looks more like real grass, and is easier to maintain.
But just think about tackled on that surface. It is a nightmare! Imagine getting slammed down on the fake turf that is will filled with recycled tires. Ouch! My body aches just thinking of getting slammed to the ground on the fake stuff.
Of course the field turf devotees scream that their playing surface holds up so much better than natural grass during times of inclement weather.
Last week I watched Virginia Tech play North Carolina in a key college football game that was marked by torrential rains resulting from Hurricane Matthew. It poured throughout the entire game; huge amounts of rain falling from the sky. From start to finish it was a downpour!
What struck me most about the game was not the game itself but the condition of the Kenan Stadium field. The turf at Kenan Stadium is natural grass. Despite these horrendous conditions, there was no water on the field. None! There was no mud on the field. Zero!! The drainage system was incredible leaving the field in impeccable condition despite the hurricane rains.
The condition of Kenan’s natural grass playing surface was so incredible that it caused me get motivated to start the “abolish field turf” campaign.
I researched the cost issues that alleges field turf to be so much cheaper than natural grass. “Not so fast” the legendary Lee Corso would shout. Cheaper costs of field turf are a myth. There are more significant costs associated with maintenance, long-term costs, purchase and disposal than you think. Don’t forget about the injury factor from the pounding the body takes from playing on the artificial surface. And we don’t even know yet about the other health issues such as potential increases in infections that result from playing primarily on in-fill systems.
Let’s return to all playing surfaces being natural grass. It is safer, cheaper and causes fewer injuries. And is there anything more painful than watching a Notre Dame or University of Texas game on television with the nasty field turf ruining those iconic stadiums?
I’ll propose a deal for you field turf lovers. If, and when, the historic Augusta National golf course lays field turf on its fairways as a sign that field turf is indeed the best answer, I will concede victory to you. Until then, let’s get this right and abolish field turf and make all fields natural grass playing surfaces.