Turf Wars

Turf fields and non-contact injuries

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Turf playing surface.

Injuries in football are rarely avoided. Players get concussions and broken bones, all from playing their sport. But there are some injuries that can be avoided by one change. Changing from turf to natural grass thereby avoiding non-contact injuries. 

When playing on the football field, one of the most important things is whether or not the field is turf or natural grass. Playing football on any field can lead to injuries, but a turf field has a tendency to lead to more non-contact injuries such as an ACL tear, ruptured achilles, sprained ankle and much more. The textural difference between grass and turf leads to repetitive wear on joints from a soft footplant point. In a recent study conducted by the National Football League Players Association, the union protecting the players in the National Football League (NFL) looked at the injuries in the NFL, both contact and non-contact, and details the difference between artificial turf and natural grass. It concluded that non-contact injuries had a higher chance of occuring on turf fields than natural grass, urging all NFL stadiums to make an immediate switch from the old artificial turf to natural grass in order to prevent these injuries from continuously occurring. 

We see this trend continue into college football where many players are seen getting injured for no reason other than the fact that the field was turf and not natural grass. One of the biggest football schools, Notre Dame, has expressed their concerns over the home stadium they play in being changed from grass to turf. The team decided that they would change from the old tradition of natural grass to the up-and-coming trend that is turf. This change led to an uproar in one category, and that is non-contact injuries. It is clear that turf is increasing the likelihood of players getting non-contact injuries, yet the NFL and college stadiums continue to use turf instead of grass.

In an interview with one of the NFL’s most prolific voices for player health and safety, Aaron Rodgers spoke about the concern of using turf fields and how it impacts injuries. In his interview, Rodgers discussed his love for playing on turf, but was urgent about making a change to natural grass to help avoid these non-contact injuries. Even with NFL players spreading awareness about the dangers of turf, college football programs are making the change to synthetic turf instead of natural grass. This change is being made for one simple reason: turf is easier to maintain and less of a commitment. Although players throughout the league have voiced their frustration over playing on turf fields, the NFL claims that the injury rate is the same for both turf and grass and they don’t plan on changing it any time soon. However, in data collected by the NFL’s Player Association (NFLPA), it shows non-contact injuries were higher on artificial turf than on grass. The NFL claimed in their data that the percentage of injuries was the same, but that statistic was contested by outside researchers.

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