Sport has been part of our culture for thousands of years. Playing games in a competitive manner is engrained into our genetic make-up, a natural inclination for everyone from toddlers to elders. With the major sports comes deep traditions.
The Tradition of Sport
The traditions, history and rules of a sport are the foundation of the spirit that excites the athletes and the fans for generations. As children, we grow up watching and following our sport idols on television. Our parents tell us thrilling tales from the last dying seconds of a high school championship and our grandparents share the wisdom of the greats that are no longer with us.
For those who love a sport, tradition is everything and to break that tradition is a delicate subject to say the least.
Two of the most passionate sports in the world are without a doubt, soccer and football; or if you are European, football and American football. When you bend down and wrap your hands around the leather of an NFL football, you can almost hear the ghostly echo of a stadium cheering as a team from the past overcomes the odds and wins a State Championship or the Superbowl. When the World Cup Event is taking place on the other side of the world and the majority of your city has their favourite country’s flag hanging off their car or on their jersey, you know soccer is a big deal.
Artificial Turf and Professional Sports
Image the reaction you might receive if you proposed to change the shape or size of soccer goal posts around the world. You would likely be met with outrage from Brazilian, Italian, and French soccer fans among many other. How could you possibly change one of the fundamental aspects of the sport? It has been this way for hundreds of years- how dare we…right?
Well, if we followed this mindset in all other aspects of our lives we would still be sending smoke signals instead of text messages and goalies in the sport of hockey would be facing 90 mph slapshots without a mask or helmet.
As technology advances, sports evolve to increase the quality of play while also increasing the safety of the athletes.
Turf vs. Natural Grass in Soccer
Soccer has been played on fields, or pitches, made of natural grass for hundreds of years. Is there any issue with professional athletes playing on natural grass fields?
Disadvantages of Playing Professional Sports on Natural Grass
- Non-uniform divots and depressions disrupt the play and can cause injury
- Provide less playing time when the grass is damaged due to frost, heavy rain etc
- Wear down and become bare in some areas when playing 150+ games in a year
- Stadium/pitch owners have the disadvantage of paying for groundskeeper and other supplies such as fertilizer
This is where synthetic turf makes it’s entrance. When installed correctly, it creates a completely uniform surface, creating footing and ball play that is more predictable for athletes. Without natural divots, holes, or rocks, an artificial field negates many injuries. Some athletes, namely senior soccer players, believe that artificial turf causes more injuries than natural grass. While there is potential for this to be true of the older styles of synthetic turf, there is no evidence to suggest that modern turf causes any more injuries than grass.
Synthetic Turf is Adopted by Professional Sports with Open Arms
In many of the European soccer leagues, synthetic turf is being widely adopted, even in some of the most traditional areas, such as Scotland. Before artificial turf, all the fields in Scotland were absolutely horrible due to the amount of precipitation they receive. Not only did the grass become wet and puddled but it also was damaged easier on dry days because the soil was so moist. This caused game delays, injuries, cancellations and inhibited the growth of many Scottish players who spent less time playing. Artificial turf was once banned in Scotland, now two of their premier teams play on 100% artificial turf. In Norway, over 60% of the soccer pitches are now composed of artificial turf. Not only are the players and coaches convinced, but so are the managers.
Norwegian manager of Celtic- Ronny Deila
“If you want to to develop players and get passing football into your team, it’s difficult when the ball is bouncing all the time. It’s much better to play on an artificial surface than to play on this. If we are going to develop good young players in Scotland you need to have a good surface to play and train on. If not, you just get fighters. If you want skills and technique, you have to play on better surfaces. They are much better in Norway where 60% of our pitches are artificial. Nothing is better than a good grass pitch, but if it’s going to be like this then it’s better to play on artificial.”
Scottish FA Chief -Stewart Regan
“There is no evidence from recent research to suggest any link between artificial surface and injury #heretostay”
Synthetic Turf is Here to Stay
Back in North America, you will find almost half of the NFL stadiums sporting artificial turf and over 90% of US Soccer youth development games played on synthetic surfaces. In Canada, the BC Whitecaps now play in a new $150 million dollar stadium that sports artificial turf, while the Women’s World Cup games in Edmonton were played on artificial blades of grass of the Commonwealth Stadium instead of dirt. It is clear that professional athletes and team owners have recognized that the highest quality of play and development occurs on an artificial surface. If you want the best players and the best games for your fans to enjoy, the choice is clear. Synthetic Turf is here to stay.
Interested to learn more about how synthetic turf works or looking to upgrade your field, putting greens, batting cages, or playgrounds? Contact our team today to discover the advantages of synthetic turf or to be connected to a dealer near you!