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New turf should lessen heat, reduce injuries

Nov. 6, 1998

BY TINISHA KNOX

Reporter

Tinisha_Knox@baylor.edu

The shift this season from artificial turf to a grass playing field at Floyd Casey Stadium has prompted talk of better recruiting and better health conditions for the Baylor football team.

'Grass is becoming a recruiting tool,' Assistant Athletic Trainer David Chandler said.

Chandler has been at Baylor for 10 years and said almost all the big schools are going to grass fields.

'About half of the Big 12 schools, especially those in the South, have gone to grass. ,' Chandler said. 'Artificial turf is easier for the northern schools, because of the weather.'

There is a significant labor difference in the maintenance of a grass field, but many believe that it is worth it.

Chandler said that although the National Collegiate Athletic Association study on grass verses artificial turf suggests that there is not an increase in injuries on a turf surface, he believes that a grass field has many benefits.

'Well, first of all, grass doesn't retain heat like artificial turf does. The artificial turf is about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the actual temperature,' Chandler said.

Chandler explained the problems associated with heat.

'The heat makes the players fatigue much faster than usually, and when they get tired, injuries are more prone to happen,' Chandler said.

Besides the heat factor, artificial turf also offers the benefit of different traction.

'Turf is very hard and stern. The players who have suffered from a knee injury say that it puts too much pressure on their knee, and some refuse to even run on turf,' Chandler said.

Andra Fuller, a receiver for the Bears, said he prefers grass over artificial turf.

'The turf has too much grip,' Fuller, a Houston sophomore, said.

Fuller sustained a knee injury in high school, where he tore his knee cartilage and ligaments.

'I was running right and I was going to cut left, but my foot got stuck and my knee took the pressure,' Fuller said.

Fuller said that if he would have been playing on a softer surface, like grass, his injury would have been prevented.

'Turf is bad on my knees. It puts too much pressure on my tendons,' Fuller said.

The main concern with artificial turf is the stickiness of the material. When a 230 pound player plants his foot and then makes a sharp turn, it is very painful if his foot gets stuck while turning. His ankle and knee will feel all of the pressure.

If that same player tries to make that turn, but is then hit by another 230 pound player, not only will his knee feel the pressure of the turn, but also the weight of the other player.

Curtis Henderson, a Houston senior, is another player who has suffered from knee injury.

'I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) last year. My knee just snapped,' Henderson said.

Henderson said he is happy with the move to grass.

'I'm still rehabilitating my knee through squats, running and leg extensions. Playing on a softer surface will put less strain on my joints as I try to rebuild my muscles,' he said.

Fuller is also concerned with the heat of the artificial turf.

'We have to wear extra padding because of the possibility of turf burn,' Fuller said.

Fuller said that during the first game of the session in Oregon, two players acquired third-degree burns.

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