Turf on Trial

All sports field managers have the same priority: the safety of the athletes. But, when a player sustains an injury on turf, who’s to blame? According to ESPN, former Houston Texans punter Brett Hartmann is suing the county agency that operates Reliant Stadium and blaming “unsafe turf” for a career-ending knee injury sustained on that field in December of last year. Reliant’s unconventional game-day field consists of more than 1,200 8-square-foot sections of grass that are pieced together for games, allowing the stadium to protect the turf while hosting other events. Hartmann says he caught his foot in one of the seams between the turf sections. The lawsuit includes past comments critical of the stadium’s surface from other NFL players and coaches, including nose tackle Shaun Cody, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and former Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy. Willie Loston, executive director of the Harris County Convention and Sports Corporation (one of the defendants named in the suit), argues that the field is safe, is inspected by NFL officials and referees prior to every game, and that they intend to “defend the lawsuit vigorously.” What do you think: simple accident or the inevitable result of unreasonable field use demands?

On a side note, Reliant Stadium recently completed installation of a removable AstroTurf surface to be used for non-NFL events.

Closing out 2012

Another year has come to an end, and what an exciting year it was. As a nation we survived a seemingly endless barrage of political ads and re-elected a president, cheered for our nation’s top athletes at the London games, teetered on the edge of a fiscal cliff, landed a robotic rover on Mars and weathered a super-storm. As an industry you faced the challenge of maintaining safe fields during a record-breaking drought, managed growing field use demands and shrinking budgets, and implemented strategies to save money, water and time. While we can’t predict what 2013 will bring, you can trust that change is inevitable. Synthetic surfaces, pesticide regulations, indoor stadiums; in this technical industry, those who evolve with the technology will be successful in the long term. As John F. Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

This issue is the last one of 2012, our sixth year of publishing SportsField Management. Thanks to all of our loyal readers. We look forward to continuing to serve the sports field industry for many years to come.

Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season spent with family and friends. See you next year!

Katie Meyers