Before the game between the Chicago Bears and the Tennessee Titans, a detailed view of the Chicago Bears logo and NFL team crest can be seen on NFL football. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)
Before the 2021 season, Bank of America Stadium became the newest NFL venue with synthetic turf instead of natural turf, as found at Soldier Field, Heinz Field, and Arrowhead Stadium.
So far, half of the NFL franchises are now playing and/or practicing on artificial turf, but if the players play their way, every stadium will become an organic court.
Last year, after many players suffered serious injuries at the beginning of the 2020 season, the NFL Players Association president and Cleveland Browns center JC Tretter publicly opposed the use of artificial turf.
In particular, the MetLife Stadium became the focus, when the main members of the San Francisco 49ers were absent from the game against the New York Jets and the New York Giants, noting that the turf felt "sticky".
The data shows that the risk of non-contact lower limb injuries on natural grass is reduced, but many teams in the league have achieved success (see: "The Greatest Performance on Grass") and stay healthy on the opposite type of playing field.
In order to cooperate with our previous research on the "dome advantage", let us turn to the ground to explore the differences in the entire league.
Here, we provide a complete list of NFL stadiums by turf type and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using natural and synthetic turf.
In 1968, the Houston Oilers became the first professional football team to play on artificial turf, when the team moved to Astrodome, where AstroTurf was installed in 1966.
In the next few decades, many NFL teams (Hawks, Colts, Rams, and Patriots, to name a few) followed suit and transitioned from grass to artificial turf.
Did you know that by the 1990s, half of NFL stadiums had been converted to lawn fields? Check out this website to learn more interesting facts about using lawn fields in the NFL! https://t.co/lMaYm2EYrn pic.twitter.com/QO2QMSHVbH
One of the reasons why the surface is popular is its cost-effectiveness.
Compared with natural grass, synthetic turf requires much less maintenance throughout its life cycle, and it can be said to be more environmentally friendly.
Pesticides, fertilizers and continuous watering are unnecessary, and the structure can withstand severe weather and heavy traffic throughout the year.
Due to its durability, stadium owners have found that using turf to transform their venue into a multi-purpose venue, in addition to hosting eight to nine home games during the 17-week NFL season, it can also host other lucrative events, such as concerts Or tournament.
As early as 2008, NFLPA conducted a survey on the use of turf and natural grass, and received a lot of criticism of the former.
Nearly 93% of players believe that artificial turf will shorten their career, while 91% said that the surface will cause more soreness and fatigue.
As one player simply said in the survey: "If a cow can't eat it, we shouldn't play it."
When force is applied, the soil and grass will break apart, but the turf does not have the same flexibility.
When an athlete’s feet are stuck on the ground on the turf, his or her legs are more likely to bend or break than the blades of artificial grass.
This was the case in 1993, when the Chicago Bears receiver Wendell Davis broke two patella tendons on the dangerous turf of Philadelphia.
OTD 1993: #Bears Genius WR Wendell Davis suffered two disturbing (sadly end of career) injuries at the same time in a game, severely tore two of his patellar tendons while trying Catch the ball on the notoriously dangerous lawn of the Philadelphia Veterans Stadium. pic.twitter.com/OIhYHc25WF
His injury became a catalyst for the design of highly advanced artificial surfaces, such as FieldTurf, where softer fibers were placed on sand and small rubber particles to provide more cushioning to reduce the risk of injury.
According to NFL players, today's artificial turf, such as the Hellas Matrix Turf at SoFi Stadium, is much safer than in the 90s, but there is still a long way to go to compete with natural grass.
In Trett's petition in 2020, he cited the league's official injury report from 2012 to 2018 as evidence that natural grass has a lower risk of injury.
According to the report, athletes have a 28% higher rate of non-contact lower limb injuries on turf, a 32% higher rate of non-contact knee injuries, and a 69% higher rate of non-contact foot or ankle injuries.
Treite also argued that most of his teammates prefer to play on the grass, because their joints feel "significantly hardened" after playing on the grass.
Treit further pointed out that the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers plant natural grass, even though their stadiums are located in a cold climate.
In addition, Arizona and Las Vegas live in indoor stadiums and avoid artificial turf.
In particular, the Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium has a retractable natural grass playground that can be dismantled during concerts, football matches, college and high school games.
Did you know that the Cardinals Stadium is the first stadium in the United States to combine a retractable roof and a mobile grass playground? #NationalTriviaDay pic.twitter.com/HHr2HIVMam
Technology and resources can be used to provide players with a playing field they like. It's just a question of how much the owner is willing to spend on this endeavor.
Maintenance costs can become quite high, especially when the stadium needs to be extra careful to deal with complex weather.
Otherwise, you will see a terrible ground, such as the dilapidated grass of the Soldier Field, or the flying dirt, like watching a game at Ericsson Stadium (now Bank of America Stadium), home of the Carolina Panthers in 2001 As it is.
Even the costly landscaping bill cannot solve all the problems caused by natural grass. The Cardinals spent a considerable amount of money on their high-tech irrigation system, but received bad feedback from the Detroit Lions they visited. They complained at a conference in 2018 that the field was "bad".
The Packers also invested heavily in the heating system at Lambeau Field, which was introduced in 1967 to prevent the ground from freezing in winter.
Nevertheless, natural grass makes players happy.
Even athletes in other sports promote the use of ground sports, including football stars David Beckham and Abby Wambach.
But the owner and the general manager have very different views on this controversy, ultimately deciding what is best for their franchise.
So for now, the NFL will maintain a perfect division until one party can convince the other that the grass on the other side—whether real or man-made—is greener.