December 18, 2009
Synthetic Turf at Walsh Jesuit
It was the final drive Friday night. A minute left in the fourth, I was on the field playing in front of hundreds of fans. The ground was sodden and muddy, the rain just continued to fall. For every step I took, my feet sank deeper into the mud. I couldn’t hold my blocks, let alone hold my ground. My teammates were under the same circumstances. The running back couldn’t make his cuts; the receivers couldn’t get around the corners. Third and Seven, one of our senior receivers broke free, 40 yard gain. Next play, our line held their blocks for the running back, 10 yard gain. On the 20 yard line, we tried to make two more passes, one more run, but we just couldn’t move in this mud pit. It was fourth and ten, our special team came out to try to kick a field goal and win the game. With three seconds left, the long snapper got the ball of perfectly, the line was somewhat holding on to their blocks, all the kicker needed to do was get the ball of cleanly. He didn’t, he slipped up a little bit making one of his three steps. The ball is shot off far to the right. Game over, we lost. This situation could have been avoided with synthetic turf.
Modern synthetic turf has been known to reduce stress in joints and reduce the risk of injury of playing on a grass field. Turf is also designed to stay cooler under the hot sun, so during two-a-days there is a lessened risk of players passing out due to heat exhaustion. Jacob Slagle, the athletic director of Spring Grass said, “Our school received medical opinions from physicians that the likelihood of severe injuries, especially to the head, is reduced with synthetic turf.” Not only is synthetic turf safe, but it helps the environment. Turf uses roughly 45,000 recycled tires that would otherwise take up space in landfills or tire waste sites. Also, the typical grass field uses 1.5-3.5 million gallons of water per year, turf uses almost none. With one all purpose turf field, we may be able to restore some of the wetlands at Walsh Jesuit. Another important topic is maintenance. Turf eliminates the costs for fertilizers and pesticides. It also requires no mowing, watering, or reseeding. Only occasional brushing and vacuuming is required. Lloyd Price of Ringgold High School said, “Once a week we send a guy out there to groom and clean the field. With a grass field we would have a crew of four to five people take care of it about four days a week.” Walsh Jesuit’s grass field is a potential safety risk and is consuming unnecessary amounts of money that could go to other school activities. The Walsh Jesuit High School football field should be changed to synthetic turf because it has many safety, environmental, and maintenance benefits.
Of the many arguments that are brought up in the Turf field discussion, the misconception of safety, costs, and overall benefits to the school really stick out in my mind. Many people believe that turf creates more injuries than grass fields. This is an understandable argument because, before the recent alterations to modern turf, this was a true statement. This is also a weak argument because turf actually is safer than grass now. The NCAA Injury Surveillance System conducted a two season study of American college and university men and women sports. The results showed that men experienced 6.6 percent of player-to-surface injuries on turf and 7.8 percent on grass. Women experienced 11.2 percent on turf and 15.5 percent on grass. Another argument is the cost of a turf field. People argue that it costs $850,000 to put in a turf field and only about $450,000 for a grass field. This is true, except maintenance costs play a huge role. If you have a turf field maintenance costs can be reduced by up to $60,000 per year, depending on how much they cost now. After about four of five years, you are saving tens of thousands of dollars per year. The last argument brought up