15
Oct

The Case for Replacing Artificial Turf on NFL Fields

In September 2020, the NFL Players Association President, Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter called for all fifteen fields that are currently equipped with artificial turf to be replaced with natural turf to prevent further player injuries. In his letter titled “Only Natural Grass Can Level the NFL’s Playing Field”, he states “It’s not good for players, it’s not good for the GMs and the head coaches, it’s not good for the owners and it’s not good for the fans. Increased injuries are not good for anybody.” he continued as he detailed data to union members.

One of those artificial fields in question is MetLife Stadium, which has seen a bevy of injuries this season. Steelers’ right tackle Zach Banner suffered a torn ACL in Week 1 against the Giants, and running back James Conner also exited the game with an ankle injury. The following week, 49ers Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas suffered injuries on the same field against the Jets. San Francisco defensive end Arik Armstead told the league to fix the “trash met life turf” after the game, and his coach Kyle Shanahan wasn’t thrilled either.

West Coast Turf Marketing Director, Danielle Scardino, spoke up to NBC recently to provide her professional opinion. “Natural turf has more give” and “There is no reason to have artificial turf, the technology exists even in colder climates to maintain the turf’s longevity.”

The first artificial turf-style field was introduced in the mid-1960s when ChemGrass was installed at the Houston Astrodome to replace the dying grass in the first domed stadium. The grass was later rebranded AstroTurf, and thus began the debate of natural grass versus turf playing surfaces.

For years, artificial turf, while very expensive, seemed like a good alternative to keep the turf looking great on camera for the NFL games and preserve the longevity of the surface. But recently, ten players were injured on these surfaces and two of them being season-ending injuries. This was enough to make the Players Association take notice.

On October 6, Casey Reynolds, PhD and Executive Director of Turfgrass Producers International responded in an open letter to the NFL Players Association, Team Owners, University and High School Athletic Directors, Sports Field Managers, Coaches, Athletes, and Parents “Do we want our athletes playing in a concert venue, or do we want to host concerts and other events in an athletic venue? If the answer is the latter, then there is little doubt that natural grass is the safest proven choice.”

According to Dr. Jennifer Nicole Falk from At Your Feet Concierge Podiatry, “Artificial turf not only increases the surface temperature, making it dangerous to play on at certain temperatures, it also puts players at increased risk for bacterial infections, as well as systemic effects and toxicity from the rubber… Because there is more friction between cleats and turf, this theoretically could lead to a greater potential for athletic injuries, including turf toe, knee injuries, foot lock, turf burn, and more powerful collisions & concussions.”

“Natural grass would give the players a safe work environment.” Danielle Scardino continued while speaking with NBC. “and we could get it done by next season”. West Coast Turf is the largest grower and installer of natural turfgrass sod in the Western United States.

West Coast Turf has supplied the NFL with eight Super Bowl fields from California to Florida, including Super Bowls XXVII, XXIX, XXX, XXXII, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX and 50 as well as baseball and soccer fields for professional sports teams.

The Truth About Artificial vs. Natural Turf

  • Ground rubber tires are used in some artificial fields, yet because of their toxic content they are prohibited from being disposed of in landfills or ocean dumping. Where will this toxic material be disposed of when a replacement field becomes necessary?
  • Temperatures on artificial fields have been documented to be upwards of 86.5 degrees hotter than natural grass fields under identical conditions. How long can players of all ages be safely exposed to this level of heat?
  • Field sanitation that includes the removal of bodily fluids and/or animal droppings present a unique problem for artificial fields. Will antiseptic cleaners properly sanitize the field? If so, how often?
  • Abrasive surfaces such as artificial fields can result in difficult-to-heal injuries, particularly in the presence of bacterial or viral pathogens. Are you prepared to treat these wounds properly?
  • Field hardness on artificial surfaces can result in serious chronic or immediate athletic injury? If additional ground tire rubber is periodically added to soften the field, is toxicity of the material also renewed?
  • Natural turf is preferred by 88% of NFL players, and 96% believe that artificial turf contributes to injuries.
  • Natural turfgrass saves energy. The front lawns of eight houses have the cooling effect of about 70 tons of air conditioning. That’s amazing when the average home has an air conditioner with just a three or four ton capacity.
  • Green turfgrass significantly lowers fire hazard risk. How would an artificial turf field fire be fought quickly while minimizing the danger to firefighters, and reducing the release of toxic fumes?
  • The initial price of artificial turf is many times greater than a natural turf area. Maintenance costs are equal or higher.

Think Green-Keep it Real!  Check out more #KeepItReal updates on Twitter.

 

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14
Oct

Frequently Asked Questions About Overseeding Your Warm Season Lawn

Now that we’re into October it’s time to get the overseeding of your warm season grass process started.  I wanted to pass along some of the most frequently asked questions during this time of the year.

When is the best time to start overseeding?
Ideally overseeding should be done when nighttime temperatures are consistently in the 60’s. Usually this will be in October. There will be some higher and lower than normal temperatures, but anytime during October is good.

How low do I need to scalp the grass prior to seeding?
Height of cut isn’t as important as opening the turf canopy. The shorter you mow the grass, the tighter the turf canopy will be which will result in the need to verticut more aggressively. I recommend not going lower than ½”. There is no need to take the lawn to the dirt or you will cause long term problems to the grass plant.

Overseeded sod

This overseeded bermuda sod field in Scottsdale, Arizona, is READY!

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