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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon