Our industry is in the spotlight again. A story that showed the hypocrisy of the so-called dangers of the lead findings in artificial turf in the New Jersey area was in USA Today. It included a large color photo of a group of people scraping up the carpet at one of the closed fields. They felt the field was so dangerous it had to be scraped up right away. It was so dangerous that they were wearing shorts and T-shirts as they scraped.
Synthetic surfaces, whether for horse tracks or playing fields, have known benefits, but no one yet knows enough about potential detriments. Some of these questions should have been asked a long time ago. Unfortunately, many of you have not been in the position to ask. Sports field managers, in too many situations, have not gained the respect of enough of the right people to be a part of the decision-making processes. Others have put their head in the sand and for too long ignored the synthetic side of the turf business. I guess they felt if they ignored it, it would go away. We know that hasn’t happened.
It behooves us all to learn as much as we can about all the alternatives. We need to ask questions. A certain amount of skepticism is good. We need to share more information. We need to support the organizations that promote the industry. We need to be confident when we have accurate information, and offer it to the media. We need to make sure that what we say is based on facts, not hearsay, and certainly not disparaging of our peers.
It seems that most of the media is looking for bad news. Thankfully, some of the media is looking for positive stories—at least once in a while. Continue to speak about all of the good you do and what you are doing to become even better. Some of it might get picked up by the media, and our industry will benefit.
To contact the author, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.