Jose A. Mosqueda | The Poly Post

No more turf: An athlete’s cry for change

By Kasai Childress, Nov. 7, 2023

Hearing the agony in my teammates voice when he felt that sharp pain in his leg is the worst thing an athlete can hear. From cheers of joy to silence in the crowd, all fans could do was pray for him.

You hate to see your brother out there giving it all he’s got for it to be over in just one play. Those little black and green pebbles are no good for an athlete’s longevity. Fresh cut grass is the way to go. 

There is a cry for change in the sports world when it comes to the playing field. Whether it be football, soccer or baseball, it’s time for artificial turf to be taken off our fields and replaced with all-natural grass. 

Being a former football player, I can relate to what it’s like having an injury that could have been avoided if I was playing on grass. In addition to this, playing on turf in general is brutal.

Playing on turf in the hot California sun in September is like playing hot potato with your feet. There are not many ways to cool your feet off after a long game. Even the blisters you end up getting after so many plays on the field are disgusting and unpleasant. And let’s not forgot about the number of turf burns you rack up by the end of the season. 

The beauty of the logo at midfield and how bright the color is in the endzone are not enough for me to be pleased about playing on turf. Not even enough for me to see it on TV after knowing my favorite player is out for the year after breaking off a route and dropping to his knees. 

I will never forget that moment of fear once I realized a lower part of my leg was throbbing after a play. 

Casey Villalon | The Poly Post

Third and long to go, ball on the 40-yard line with about two minutes left in the third quarter is where it all happened. I was getting into my backpedal and flipping my hips preparing for liftoff. After about what seemed like two seconds in the air, I then landed left foot first on that rock solid turf only to get my foot stuck and twisting my ankle. 

I was fortunate enough to only sustain a sprained ankle and miss a week and a half of football. However, not everybody is as lucky as me. 

My freshman year of college was the most eye-opening I’ve ever been when it came to this topic. I’m no doctor, but I know something is wrong when my starting quarterback has his entire foot facing the opposite way and trying to hop back to the sideline.

Images like these will forever be in my mind, and I can only wonder what would have happened if we were playing on grass instead of turf.

Those who have been tuned into football this season know four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers’ season was cut short after tearing his Achilles tendon on a turf field during his first drive for the New York Jets. 

All that off-season training and hard work vanished before he could say hike. A torn Achilles tendon is just one of many injuries that have been caused by artificial turf. ACL tears are another common one we see on a game-to-game basis. 

As recent as 2019, the rate of lower-extremity injuries was higher on artificial turf fields than grass, said Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy. Miller also stated there are no simple answers when it comes to this topic.

The NFL Players Association has been a huge advocate in regulating the playing field to grass fields for all 32 teams. In statement from September, the NFLPA stated it’s much safer to play on grass than turf. 

It’s time for artificial turf to be taken out of our fields indefinitely and be replaced with all-natural grass. This goes for pop warner leagues all the way to the top of the NFL. It’s time for our athletes to be back in the huddles. It’s time for change.

Feature image courtesy of Casey Villalon

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