Artificial Turf Company Kept Selling Defective Fields to Schools Knowing They Were Defective
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
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- 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.
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