The Risk of Serious Injury on Artificial Turf Fields

0:00 Your front-page article in the December 15 edition, “Slow the Nursery Field Artificial Turf Project,” makes a strong case for the City Council to […]

Published January 11, 2024 4:10 PM
2 min read


Your front-page article in the December 15 edition, “Slow the Nursery Field Artificial Turf Project,” makes a strong case for the City Council to reject the installation of artificial turf at Nursery Field or, at least, give consideration to issues and concerns that have not been addressed. Why does the Council appear to be in such a rush to approve this project? It feels like the decision was already pre-determined when they hired consultants associated with the Synthetic Turf Council.  

My main purpose in writing is to emphasize an important issue that I don’t believe has been adequately considered: the safety of our children who would play on the artificial turf. At the Council’s December 6 meeting, they heard from “experts,” such as the former Secretary of the Synthetic Turf Council, and a Rye mom who felt that one more artificial turf field wouldn’t make a difference because her kids already play on artificial turf elsewhere. A serious inquiry on the safety of artificial turf would include individuals such as orthopedists, physical therapists, trainers, coaches, and players. 

The following information might also be considered: The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) has recently taken the position that turf fields should not be permitted in the NFL because the incidence of serious injury to players is much greater on turf than on natural grass: “On synthetic surfaces, there is less give, meaning our feet, ankles, and knees absorb the force, which makes injury more likely to follow. . . Specifically, players have a 28 percent higher rate of non-contact lower extremity injuries when playing on artificial turf. Of those non-contact injuries, players have a 32 percent higher rate of non-contact knee injuries on turf and a staggering 69 percent higher rate of non-contact foot/ankle injuries on turf compared to grass.” Visit sites like if you have additional questions about workplace injuries.

The same problem exists for soccer players. Nearly all soccer players prefer a natural grass surface, and Premier League clubs are not allowed to play on 100 percent artificial turf. When the World Cup comes to North America in 2026, all stadiums will have to have natural grass playing fields.

A study by the University Hospitals Sports Medicine Institute determined that high school athletes were “58 percent more likely to sustain an injury during athletic activity on artificial turf. Injury rates were significantly higher for football, girls’ and boys’ soccer, and rugby athletes. Lower extremity, upper extremity, and torso injuries were also found to occur with a higher incidence on artificial turf.”  

According to an orthopedic surgeon who treats sports injuries via sports injury laser treatment: “Athletes in many sports plant their feet in the ground to make sharp cuts and turns… These motions are especially common in soccer. The movements can stress tendons and ligaments in knees and ankles, putting them at risk for injury. . .  There is a little bit of give that a grass turf field would have that an artificial field does not have.” 

Do any of the arguments in favor of artificial turf at Nursery Field justify the heightened risk of injury to our children? I would hope that the City Council is willing to give careful consideration to this important question.

– David A. Cutner

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