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 #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 long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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.
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.”
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.
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