By Ken Reed
According to an investigative report by NJ Advance Media, FieldTurf, the country’s leading manufacturer of artificial turf sports fields, sold more than 1,000 fields to schools and communities across the country after its executives knew the product was defective and failed to live up to the company’s lofty marketing claims.
When company executives discovered the problem, they faced a dilemma: do the right thing or continue to make big profits — primarily off local taxpayers in communities across the country. They chose the profits-at-all-costs (PAAC) approach.
The turf fields, marketed as Duraspine, cost from $300,000 to $500,000, or more. FieldTurf had Duraspine product sales of $570 million between 2005 until 2012, when Duraspine was discontinued. Records obtained by NJ Advance Media reveal that as early as 2006, key FieldTurf executives became aware that the turf fields were falling apart at a much faster rate than schools and communities had been promised. Yet, the company never changed its marketing claims or operations in any way.
“You can’t stick your head in the sand and say this isn’t a major problem, not a major issue, let’s just keep going,” Kevin Reynolds, FieldTurf’s vice president of operations from 2000 to 2008, said in an interview. “You have to make the necessary adjustments based on what you’re seeing and the company never did that.”
The superintendent of the Skiatook Public School District in Oklahoma said it took three years to get FieldTurf to agree to replace their $300,000 field — and only after it threatened legal action.
Meanwhile, the football coach at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark, New Jersey said that the turf was so bad last year that the school considered cancelling games.
“You grab it and it rips. It rips like grass,” said coach Darnell Grant. “We deserve better, our community deserves better and our kids deserve better. Give the kids, give the community what they paid for.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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