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 #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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