Injuries abounded once again this year in the National Football League and one of the causes is the Artificial turf that covers the stadium floors used by 15 out of 28 NFL teams. Yet the owners, who make megamillions and pay millions to their players, watch indifferently from their luxury boxes as one athlete after another is lost for the season or ended his career.
Some of the game’s greatest stars, such as Gayle Sayers, Billy Sims, Jack Lambert, attribute to the hard unyielding fake turf career-ending injuries.
More recently, Wendell Davis of the Chicago Bears, playing at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia against the Eagles, suffered ripped patella tendons in both knees on a play where his feet caught in the turf and his legs buckled. Mike Sherrard, the great wide receiver for the New York Giants, was completing a 50-yard run off a pass reception by making a cut with his left foot. His foot stuck to the Giants Stadium artificial turf and he fell to the surface with a fractured and dislocated hip. No one had touched him on the play.
Eagles players compare playing on this turf to playing on a cement floor covered by a bed sheet. The majority of season-ending injuries in 1991 occurred on artificial surfaces. A survey of players a few years ago by the Players Association found that 83 percent of the athletes preferred playing on real grass which has a “give” to it. The owners (the National Football League) have no official position on the controversy.
However, the trend is swinging toward grass. The Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots have switched to grass, while the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs are seriously considering making the move to natural surface.
“That (stuff) shouldn’t be anywhere,” says running back Marcus Allen, referring to artificial turf. “It’s like a faulty car. Sooner or later, it gets you.” He should know. He suffered a blown-out knee while trying to make a cut at the Astrodome over two years ago with no player tackling him.
Well, it turns out that Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner of the National Football League, is worried too — finally. He has assured Gene Upshaw, executive director of the Player’s Association, that some action will be taken. New kinds of grass are being developed that can be used in domed stadiums.
My guess is that unless the fans start protesting over losing players on their favorite teams because of the ignorant corporate insistence on keeping artificial turf, decisions to use real grass may be postponed indefinitely. A fans revolt will focus attention on other sports — professional and amateur — allowing such turf to harm their players — right down to some high school football fields.
Interested readers may wish to express their opinion by writing to Paul Tagliabue, National Football League, 410 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 10022.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon