The Safety of Artificial Turf vs. Grass as a Sport Playing Surface

I was interviewed last week for a newspaper article which looked at the debate over a local school’s intention to transform a grass playing surface to artifical turf.

Among the controversies in sports medicine, the turf vs. grass wars are not the loudest nor the meanest, but they have been among the most persistent ever since 1966, when the Houston Astros first introduced a synthetic turf playing surface in the Astrodome, and dubbed it Astroturf.


Reliant Astrodome

The history of the Astrodome makes for interesting reading:  of note, the original intention was for the surface to be natural grass, and the makers of the dome had installed traslucent skylights to allow for grass to grow on the indoor surface.  Alas, not enough light made it to the playing surface, the grass died, and Astroturf was born.

The progress of science and technology have seen Astroturf give way to newer, so-called second-, third-, and even fourth-generation turfs. The  sporting world has even demonstrated that an indoor venue can sustain a natural grass pitch: witness the luminous Forsyth Barr stadium  in Duenedin, NZ, which has hosted matches from the 2011 Rugby World Cup to a recent Aerosmith concert.


Natural grass surface on Indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, NZ


Aerosmith, recent performers on the grass of Forsyth Barr Stadium

So, the question from the interviewer to me essentially reduces to,  ‘Grass:  if its good enough for Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, is it good enough for all of us?’ Read more of this post

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