Faux grass, actual accidents? Dissecting the NFL’s synthetic turf debate

Fake grass, real injuries? Dissecting the NFL’s artificial turf debate

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Tremendous Bowl LVIII shall be performed on a pure grass subject in an indoor stadium in Las Vegas on February 11, 2024. How do you retain a grass subject vibrant in such a hostile rising surroundings just like the Nevada desert?

The reply: You don’t. By the tip of the common NFL season, paint was used to camouflage the fact that just a few scant patches of grass remained in Allegiant Stadium, residence to the Las Vegas Raiders. Instantly after the Raiders’ final sport on January 7, 2024, the sector crew ripped up the remaining grass, put in California-grown sod over three days, and started the tedious strategy of holding the grass alive lengthy sufficient for the massive sport.

Herculean efforts to organize a vibrant pure grass subject for 2024’s Tremendous Bowl LVIII are particularly questionable when one realizes that Allegiant Stadium additionally has an synthetic turf enjoying floor accessible (utilized by UNLV Soccer). Why don’t groups in hostile environments change to extra strong synthetic turf, which is designed to beat the numerous limitations of pure grass fields?

The reply lies in a debate over the security of artificial enjoying surfaces. Whereas synthetic turf producers tout analysis that their merchandise end in fewer accidents, the NFL Gamers Affiliation (NFLPA) claims it raises harm danger and is advocating for its use to be abolished within the NFL. Let’s discover some key arguments of this debate, which continues to seize headlines with every high-profile NFL harm.

Tremendous Bowl gridirons

Stress for NFL subject managers is particularly excessive following the embarrassingly poor subject circumstances of final 12 months’s Tremendous Bowl. Tremendous Bowl LVII happened at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona—one other pure grass subject within the desert (with a retractable roof, closed at night time to shield the grass). Regardless of two years of preparation and an $800,000 funding, the grass subject was a catastrophe, as gamers struggled to search out footing on its slippery floor.

Veteran NFL groundskeeper George Toma attributed the mess to woefully improper subject preparation. Gamers additionally complained in regards to the slipping situation the earlier time the Tremendous Bowl was hosted on the pure grass subject in State Farm Stadium eight years prior for Tremendous Bowl XLIX in 2015. That 12 months, the poor traction was blamed on the inexperienced paint used on the grass.

For perspective, a few of the finest sports activities subject managers within the nation oversee subject preparations for the Tremendous Bowl. Nevertheless, sustaining pure grass in desert circumstances is so unfavorable (particularly when the grass is usually indoors) that even one of the best can mess it up.

None of those points existed when the Tremendous Bowl was final performed on synthetic turf. Tremendous Bowl LVI in 2022 was held at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, residence to each the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers. Not solely did the synthetic turf stand as much as double the workload throughout the common season (internet hosting residence video games for the LA Rams and the LA Chargers), nevertheless it additionally withstood a busy playoff season. The factitious turf subject at SoFi Stadium hosted NFL video games by the common season and proper as much as the final playoff sport when the LA Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers. Two weeks later, the Rams ended up profitable Tremendous Bowl LVI on the exact same floor.

Whereas turf avoids the sturdiness points seen with grass surfaces, gamers have widespread issues about its security—a current ballot by the NFLPA reported 92 % of gamers favored grass.

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