If you are the parent of a young football player, the chances are good that your child plays on real grass. Once your child enters school, though, he or she may be forced to play on artificial turf.
According to a recent article published by Reuters, football stadiums use artificial turf because it saves the National Football League (NFL) a lot of money each year. Artificial turf does not need as much maintenance as regular grass. For example, it does not need any water or direct sunlight to grow. This means that even in the cold, winter months, artificial turf will remain in good standing, making it the more practical and feasible option over natural grass.
However, the debate about how safe artificial turf is for football players has raged for years. In fact, there was a study conducted by two people at the University of West Virginia in 1974, which showed that artificial turf became tougher throughout the years and its “ability to absorb impact decreased over time.” Another study was conducted in 1992, showing that there were more lower extremity injuries among players who played on turf fields. As turf continues to be used, more research is being done, which is leading to the finding that “turf is less safe for athletes than natural grass.”
The NFL Player Association demands that all NFL fields be changed to natural grass to prevent further injuries from occurring to football players. However, while researchers continue performing studies, per Reuters, others believe that turf does not make a difference in the safety of football players.
How does this debate affect children’s sports?
The artificial turf debate affects children’s pee wee, middle school, and high school football leagues because these young athletes are at risk of injuries as well. Stanford Medicine reported that about 215,000 young football players between the ages of five and 14 are seen in emergency rooms each year, and over 10,000 of these young athletes are hospitalized due to the severity of their injuries.
Research presented during the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) annual conference in 2022 “found that concussion risk may be higher for athletes playing on synthetic turf fields compared with natural grass.” The data showed “that synthetic turf football fields had a greater impact deceleration compared to natural grass fields, presenting an increased risk of injury due to contact with the playing surface.” In plain language, it means that when a player falls or is knocked down, and his or her head strikes the ground, the impact of that strike is greater on fake turf than on real grass.
While the study focused on high school football players and concussions, the findings have larger ramifications. Artificial turf does not have the same “give” as real grass. They also “do not create the same divot as natural grass and therefore lack the ability to release a cleat in a potentially injurious overload situation,” per Reuters. This can increase the risk of broken bones, strains, sprains, and falls, which in turn can lead to head trauma.
Injuries that occur in football games and practices in Maryland
Although all sports run a risk of injury, football causes about twice as many injuries as baseball and almost three times as many injuries as soccer. If your child chooses to play football, you should know that risk of certain injuries may be higher, such as:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head and skull injuries
- Ankle sprains and strains
- Severe bruising
- Cuts and lacerations
- Broken and fractured bones
- Neck injuries and whiplash
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Heat exhaustion
- Crushing injuries
Football is a very physical sport, which requires constant running, tackling, ducking, and throwing. If your child complains of any type of injury, their coaches should pull them from the game immediately. You should also seek medical care as soon as possible. This will allow a physician to assess their symptoms and injuries as well as recommend treatment options.
Who is liable if my child is injured while playing sports?
All sports, as we said, come with risk. But if your child is injured because of negligence, then you may be able to file a claim against the team coaches/administrators, the organization, the school (if applicable), or other potential parties. We can discuss your options during a consultation.
If your child was injured in a football accident, please contact Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. as soon as possible. Our sports injury attorneys have about 40 years of experience making sure parents receive the compensation they need to successfully care for their child when they are injured. Therefore, we have the experience and skills to stand up to coaches, schools, and sports organizations and demand that they cooperate with your case. Call or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation at one of our multiple Maryland offices today, and we will be happy to begin discussing your legal options with you.