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American Football Field Surfaces Types

Updated on September 21, 2008

The following two types of surfaces are used in football:

Natural grass: Many natural grass surfaces exist, depending on the region's temperature and the stadium's drainage system. But, natural grass is similar to your backyard lawn or any baseball outfield: It's green, soft, and beautiful. Many companies have invested a lot of time and effort into perfecting a combination of natural grasses that can withstand the heavy and destructive wear (cleats can rip up turf) that football presents.

Artificial turf: The first artificial surface was developed for Houston's Astrodome, the first indoor stadium, which housed both professional baseball and football teams at one time. Without natural sunlight, no grass would grow. Because of the dome, the first surface was dubbed Astroturf. Artificial surfaces are made from synthetic nylon fibers that in some stadiums resemble very short blades of grass. On other surfaces, the fibers are tightly woven, which gives the feel of a cushioned carpet. Not many football players like playing on artificial surfaces, believing that on some of them their shoes stick or get caught, which can lead to serious knee injuries. After Astroturf was developed, companies improved the product, and many outdoor stadiums began to install artificial surfaces because they are cheaper to maintain than natural grass, which needs to be watered, mowed, and replaced. Plus, many football stadiums are multipurpose facilities that are used for outdoor concerts, political and religious rallies, and other sports, such as baseball and soccer. When such events are held, some areas of the grass can become trampled and destroyed by the thousands of fans sitting or walking on it, so having an artificial surface is advantageous.

However, most players prefer to play on natural grass rather than on artificial turf. Playing on an artificial surface is much like playing on green-colored wall-to-wall carpeting. I used to get rug burns on my arms and legs from the stuff. In an opinion survey conducted in 2004 of 1,514 active NFL players, 91 percent believed that artificial turf is more likely to cause injuries than grass turf. Forty-two percent believed that injuries they received on artificial turf would not have occurred had they been playing on grass. In many stadiums, the artificial surface is also harder than natural grass because it’s often laid over cement, blacktop, or dirt. And on extremely hot days, artificial surfaces retain the heat, making a 95-degree day feel like a 100-degree day.

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      9 years ago

      Good information and easy to understand

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