Ronald Strahan, Koske, Thomas J. | 5/4/2006 1:33:37 AM
Increased emphasis on safer sports turf has evolved greatly over the past years. About 20 years ago, two-thirds of reported sports injuries occurred on practice fields. Those fields were less maintained than game fields.
"Good turf can reduce some sport injuries. This is the best reason for establishing and maintaining quality fields in all sports," says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske.
Historically, parents of young athletes have assumed that it was the roughness of the game and not the playing surface that was responsible for all injuries. Spectators who enjoy the all-out physical contact between athletes consider injuries part of the game – whether at the school or pro level. An injury, however, can ruin an athletic career or more.
Koske credits families of athletes, their lawyers and turfgrass specialists for being the major forces for change in the movement to provide competitors of every age with safer playing fields. Coaches and field managers who have a substantial maintenance program documented will have an excellent rebuttal to those who say that field injuries could have been prevented with better turf maintenance.
High-quality, live turf is almost always preferred by athletes to artificial turf, Koske points out, adding that the challenge for the future lies in creating turf that will hold live grass so that the optimum playing surface can be achieved. A new level of artificial turf is now available, but the cost greatly limits its use.
More on proper turf maintenance can be learned in Extension publication #1989, Turf Maintenance for Athletic Fields.
Koske adds that late spring through summer is the most critical time to grow a bermudagrass sports field for early fall use. However, even spring baseball or winter soccer is played on a bermuda turf base that is grown during this period.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture