The Controversy Over Grass

madison plains

Where Pigskin Meets Grass

To be clear, my topic today is NOT a survey of what cannabis legalization has wrought in states like Washington or Colorado [as an aside, in our own little corner of the USA the question of legalization will be on the ballot in Ohio this fall].

The grasses we’re discussing are ‘Bermuda,’ ‘Fescue,’ ‘Bluegrass’ and the like.

And the question today is not whether ‘the Dude abides’ [he most certainly does], but is this: which is the safer surface on which to play sport, grass or turf?

The subject came to mind after reading about a recent kerfuffle in the NFL.  The Houston Texans have played on a specially designed grass surface over the years. This season, they are switching to turf in response to concerns voiced about the field quality by opponents such as the Kansas City Chiefs.  In the NFL, in this season for this stadium, there’s a push toward turf.

On the other hand, readers may remember the controversy that raged much of this year regarding the use of turf [as opposed to grass] for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. And that ‘other’ world cup, Rugby World Cup 2015, is taking place right now in England, with  Twickenham Stadium and its grass pitch as that event’s centerpiece.

Grass vs. turf?  The perennial question.  Looking at it solely from the perspective of injury prevention [as opposed to factors such as sports performance or maintenance costs], we have looked at this question from time to time in the blog and in the journal.

For instance, this summer, in the July 2015 CJSM, O’Kane et al. published their timely findings looking into shoe wear and surface type on injury rates in female youth soccer players.  They found that a grass surface and wearing cleats on grass raised rates of lower extremity injuries; they concluded: “When considering playing surfaces for training, communities and soccer organizations should consider the third-generation artificial turf a safe alternative to grass.” Something to consider in this population and this sport and a countervailing argument to the push for grass in future iterations of the Women’s World Cup? Perhaps.  Or might that be too great of a generalization, extrapolating from the youth to the elite sport level?  Very likely.

What about you: your thoughts on this matter?  Taken purely from the perspective of sporting safety and injury prevention, what are your thoughts, your read of the medical literature?  Grass vs. Turf:  which is safer?  Does the sport matter?  Does the level of play matter?

Tell us in the poll!

 

Advertisements

Rugby World Cup 2015: “All In”

Wallabies_vs_Springboks_lineout

Wallabies vs. Springboks: a potential fixture in #RWC2015 England Follow @CJSMOnLine during the World Cup to find out more.

The Rugby World Cup begins tomorrow in England, and I, like many others around the world, have been looking forward to this day for some time. It’s been on my mind at least since this blog post [‘Rugby’s Big Year(s)’], which I am republishing today.

Interest in the sport continues to grow here in the United States.  This interest is growing both in its own right–an awareness of the special excitement of rugby– and it is growing as there is increasing awareness of the sport’s impact on the broader world of football in general.  Rugby played midwife to American football, so to speak. The familial bond is still present: Jarryd Hayne, an Australian rugby player, just made his debut in an NFL regular season game; and the Wall Street Journal published an intriguing story today on the ‘thing or two’ that American football might learn from its mother sport.

I’ve written frequently on the sport in the pages of this blog, and the journal has published just as frequently on the subject.  And so we are ‘all in’ for the World Cup over the next six weeks.  Expect timely, topical posts on the sport medicine issues that arise as the games begin.

Among the other twitter feeds I’ll be following (and you should too):  @RugbyWorldCup (the official RWC2015 twitter feed); @WorldRugby (the official governing body of the sport, formerly known as the ‘IRB’); @Sharief_H (aka ‘Rugby Science); and @RugbySciNetwork (Rugby Science Network or ‘RSN’).  RSN is actually having an international conference on the sport and associated sport medicine, in Cape Town, and following the hashtag #RSN2015 will bring you a wealth of valuable information.

I’ll be travelling through South Africa and visiting Cape Town myself during the tournament, and so I’ll be sure to follow @Springboks as well.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be following a winner?  Or will it be the Pumas?  The All Blacks?  The Wallabies? Maybe the USA, ranked 15th in the world, will pull off the mother of all upsets?

We will find out at the end of October!

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine Blog

IMG_1008 Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas Nevada, site of the annual Rugby 7s tournament.

It’s amazing how time flies.  How is it already March?

It’s almost 7 p.m. and I’m writing by the light of a sun that is still above the horizon, thanks to one of my favorite inventions of the modern world: daylight savings time, which arrived last night.

This realization is a personal reminder, however, that I have been delinquent: meaning to write a blog post about an event that took place three weeks ago…..but, my oh my, business has just swamped me, I guess.

As the swallows return annually to San Juan Capistrano, so do the Rugby 7 squads of Kenya, South Africa, New Zealand and other countries come each February to the desert:  Las Vegas hosted the USA leg of the HSBC Sevens Series Feb 13 – 15.  It is the largest annual…

View original post 534 more words

Ebola and the Athlete

twitter rsa pic

The South African Minister of Sport has tweeted a ‘no, thank you’ to being host.

The biennial Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to begin in January 2015. Organizers are still looking for a host.

Morocco was set to host the tournament but has pulled out because of the fears over Ebola contagion. The Republic of South Africa has already served notice that they will not volunteer to be alternative hosts:  the country’s Minister of Sport has tweeted that the RSA is “…not the Big Brother of Africa….” and will not be standing in as host for the Cup. As I understand it, the Confederation of African Football organizers are meeting November 2 to discuss solutions for what seems to be an impasse.

If sports is indeed a mirror of the culture, then it stands to reason that concerns regarding the Ebola virus would show up in sporting venues, training rooms, sport talk shows, and athletes’ twitter feeds.  The current outbreak of the virus is still largely confined to certain nations in W. Africa, but it  is the largest and most deadly one in history.  Sport, like society at large, is concerned.  How might teams handle potential exposures?  Must consideration be given to quarantining? Is it reasonable to target only those countries at the epicenter in W. Africa?  Is ‘quarantine-lite’ the way to go? Is it wise to consider having large numbers of people travel to and from one country, as in the case of hosting AFCON?

Carrier_of_diphtheria_keep_out_of_this_house_by_order_of_board_of_health.

A sign of things to come?

A generation or two ago–most especially in the pre-vaccine and pre-antibiotic era–the quarantine was a standard measure for handling outbreaks of contagious diseases in communities.  My mother describes how she and her whole family were quarantined after she developed strep throat as a young girl in the 1930’s.   In the modern world, however, the quarantine as a response to controlling Ebola has already come under heavy fire, at least here in the United States.

The intersection of public health, international sporting events, and an infectious virus is not unique to this moment in time, of course.  In 2010 CJSM published a thematic issue on “Emerging Issues in Sport Medicine,” and included among the many offerings an article on International Travel and the Elite Athlete as well as an article on Public Health Recommendations for Athletes Attending Sporting Events.The 2009 CJSM published original research on a novel, web-based approach to more carefully monitor illnesses in professional rugby union players.  These documents are potentially useful resources to help teams and sporting federations formulate responses to this newest challenge.

But I want to acknowledge that the Ebola virus raises issues which require a great deal more work to determine appropriate, evidence-based interventions.  Winter is coming in the Northern Hemisphere, and we know we should be offering our athletes influenza vaccinations. We have a ‘system’ to handle the flu.  What to do with a disease like Ebola for which there is no current vaccine let alone an established treatment?  Likewise, what to do in the case of a virus which does not pose an airborne exposure risk like the flu, but has a much higher case fatality rate when the virus is contracted?

Already, popular sentiment has begun ‘making’ decisions of a sort.   Read more of this post

CJSM Podcast 4: Concussions and the World Cup

jsm-podcast-bg-1In this podcast we had the chance to talk with physicians Cindy Chang and Matthew Gammons about the concussion incidents in the recent FIFA World Cup.  Drs. Chang and Gammons are distinguished members of one of our affiliated societies, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine:  Dr. Chang is a past president and Dr. Gammons is a current vice-president of the organization.

Our Concussion Collection on our main web page contains several valuable research studies on the subject of concussion, and several of the articles are free.  The collection also includes the important Zurich Consensus Guidelines from 2012, which is one of the subjects up for discussion in the podcast.

At CJSM, we employ various media to ‘spread the word.’  You can get a quick taste of what the Zurich guidelines are about by watching our video of past Editor-in-Chief Willem Meeuwisse.  And all of our podcasts can be found here.

Enjoy this, our fourth one,  and let us know what you think!

%d bloggers like this: