What Is Artificial Turf?

A history and explanation of artificial turf.

Nothing compares to the sight of a plush green playing field, when you venture out to a baseball park or a local football stadium for an afternoon game. The playing field might not be real grass however, in fact, what you are looking at is probably artificial turf.

Generally, soccer, football and baseball, for example, were originally supposed to be played on grass. But grass can be an expensive investment for a sports team, and for teams playing inside a dome; grass is not a practical playing surface to maintain. Professional sport teams have very strict guidelines, dictated by their league office, which must follow very high standards, when it comes to the look and feel of the playing field.

Artificial turf resembles grass, but is made from a combination of synthetic materials, and is also known as synthetic grass or turf. The Astrodome in Houston, Texas, 1965 was where artificial turf first surfaced. A company called Monsanto, a multinational biotechnology corporation invented "Astro Turf," in 1965.

Artificial turf was thought to have some significant advantages over natural grass, the primary advantage being limited or no maintenance before and after a game. There is no sun inside a domed stadium; artificial turf would be perfect for indoor use. Also, grass wears, and especially during wet weather, leaves unsightly mud spots that are difficult to repair. It is not unusual to hear that a team during the football season will re-sod the entire field due to poor grass conditions. Grass fields are very expensive to maintain.

One major drawback to using artificial turf was the possibility of player injuries; severe injuries. "Astro turf," was especially hard to play on, and the surface would show no mercy to players and their feet. A common injury was "turf toe," this happens when a players cleats become caught in the turf. Because artificial turf has no cushion like real grass, the player may as well be running on a concrete surface. Also, when an athlete plants his foot and turns a knee injury may occur. Running and jumping on artificial turf can produce "wear and tear," injuries to the knees and ankles. The turf was popular with owners of a sports team, but not very liked by the players.

Due to an enormous amount of negative publicity "Astro turf," has, pretty much, disappeared from the playing fields. Many teams have switched to newer types of artificial surfaces as the technology has become better. The old, hard, surface is now softer and more comparable to real grass. Some artificial turf surfaces are being made of recycled tires providing a very, cushiony, realistic playing field. A company called FieldTurf has become the leader in, quality, artificial turf. Many sports are now switching to turf from natural grass, a sure sign the quality has improved and injury rates are down.

Artificial turf has shown some dramatic improvement in recent years. Turf has actually become the preferred playing surface for thousands of athletes throughout the world. The next time you see a vast field of green; take a closer look. You might be surprised at what; really, the field is made out of.

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