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Do B-CC Athletes Prefer Grass or Turf Fields?

Athletic fields in Montgomery County are almost evenly split between grass and turf, which raises the question: which kind of playing surface is safer for athletes?
Nathaniel Seaman
Turf has it’s downsides, especially for sports like soccer.

Athletic fields in Montgomery County are almost evenly split between grass and turf, which raises the question: which kind of playing surface is safer for athletes? Data from around the United States shows increased injuries on synthetic surfaces. At B-CC, teams competing on turf include soccer, lacrosse, football and field hockey. This is not just an issue at the high school level. It is currently being discussed in the NFL, where players would like to see the league get rid of all turf fields because of injury concerns. Turf fields cause more knee and ankle injuries, concussions, heat injuries and abrasions (commonly referred to as a turf burn) than traditional grass, according to the National Center for Health Research. But what do Baron athletes think about grass vs. turf fields? 

Junior Lauren Rich plays lacrosse and soccer and has mixed opinions. “We play on a variety of fields. Some high schools have grass, some have turf, some have a variety of turf, with sand and rubber chunks,” she said. “I 100% prefer turf for lacrosse, because when you’re bending down to scoop the ball, it’s gonna be so hard on grass, it’s just an uneven surface. If it’s not kept super pristine, it can be very difficult.” 

Despite her preference of turf for lacrosse, Rich prefers natural grass for soccer. “For soccer, it’s a little bit different, because it’s a lot more of a contact sport. … You’re on the ground, you’re sliding, and you spend a lot of time on the ground, more than you would think,” she said. “I would prefer grass, but only if it’s very well kept. … Turf burn is such a factor (when) you’re slide-tackling a girl. I play defense in soccer, and I come home and hop in the shower and it just burns,” she said. The uniform for both sports also came up, because both include a t-shirt and shorts or a skirt, which exposes the player to the harsh abrasions turf causes. “There is definitely so much less traction on turf, I am falling all over the place,” she said. “When it’s rainy, the ball moves so much faster. … It’s literally like a plastic sheet.”

In studies cited by AP News, female soccer players are more likely to suffer ACL injuries due to quick changes in direction. Also, turf fields have seen higher rates of foot and ankle injuries in comparison to traditional fields. There are special cleats to assist with grip on turf fields and a lot of female soccer players are using them to avoid statistically probable injuries. 

According to Cornell CALS, “native fields can take just so much use before the turf thins and compaction becomes severe.” On the other hand, “a synthetic turf field … can be played on essentially 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” 

Junior midfielder Alok Harrison has torn his ACL twice and hurt the same knee in other ways, all while playing soccer – including once during a preseason game for B-CC and once while he was at an academy in Spain. “My foot got stuck in the turf and I turned sideways and fell backward on it. I heard a huge pop in my knee,” he said, describing how he got hurt when playing in Spain. “I don’t think I would’ve torn my ACL if it was on grass, because in that specific instance, on the turf field, my foot got stuck and caught in the ground.”

While suited up for B-CC in the final preseason game this fall, Harrison scored in the first half, but in the second half his left knee gave out. He got an MRI exam after the game and was told that his ACL was completely torn.

“Nowadays, there are not many fields that aren’t made of turf. Turf fields are everywhere,” Harrison said.

It’s not just knees that can be in danger. Junior football player Kai Stanton has hurt his ankle three times during games on turf fields. “It is much more beneficial to play on grass fields than turf fields, because it is easier to run on and it causes fewer injuries,” said Stanton, who plays safety.

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About the Contributors
Amelia Zalubas
Amelia Zalubas, Staff Reporter
Amelia Zalubas, a junior, contributes to the culture and feature section of the Tattler. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, showing people unsolicited pictures of her cats, being president of the book club, and all things Taylor Swift.
Jordan Fendrich
Jordan Fendrich, Staff Reporter
This is Jordan's first year on the Tattler. He enjoys long walks on the beach and writing articles for Tattler.
Nathaniel Seaman, Section Director
Nat is a B-CC senior and is reprising his role as section director of art and photography for the second year in a row. In his free time, Nat enjoys boxing, reading and photography.

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