Here we take a closer look into the connection between injuries and artificial turf fields.
Los Angeles Rams star wideout Odell Beckham Jr tore his ACL during the Super Bowl on a non-contact play. Many people believe it is because of the artificial turf fields and the stories and statistics on the topic support that idea. A petition to change artificial turf fields to grass was created by the Pennington Grass Seed company. There are many players who have signed the petition and are reaching out the community to shed more light on the subject.
Six hours before the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle tweeted about the artificial turf fields. His tweet read, “I’ve been saying, artificial turf feels like playing on cement. It’s time to play smarter, not harder!” along with a link to the online petition. Kittle’s teammate, Nick Bosa, also tweeted about changing the artificial fields to grass to help keep players safe. Bosa has suffered injuries on artificial fields himself. Back in week 2 of the 2020 NFL season, he suffered a torn ACL on the artificial fields at New York’s MetLife Stadium. During that game they also lost defensive end Solomon Thomas to a season-ending injury and their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a sprained right ankle.
The statistics behind the issue are confirmation that there are changes that need to be made. They show that athletes are less likely to get hurt on grass fields. The National Football Players Association has collected data on injuries suffered on artificial fields for a few years. One study was based on injuries from 2012 to 2018, they came to the conclusion that “artificial turf is significantly harder on the body than grass.” But the real eye opener was the statistics on non-contact injuries. Players have a 28% higher rate of lower extremity injuries during non-contact plays on artificial turf fields. Going further in depth, players have a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries and a 69% higher rate of non-contact foot and ankle injuries, while on artificial turf fields.
There are currently 16 teams that play their home games on artificial turf fields. Two fields are shared by two teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium and the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. That means there are a majority of games played every week on artificial turf fields. That doesn’t even account for the practice fields and facilities where teams practice. Both the NFL and the NFLPA have reached out to artificial turf manufacturers to try and find a way to make conditions safer for players. But they both agree that for the time being, teams should look to use natural grass fields. All fields are regulated and evaluated, but with the way football and other sports are played today, there is a need for change in regulations and rules to keep athletes safe.