Astro Turf - Laying Down the Footwork

In the past few decades, professional sports have slowly gained more mass public attention. With the increased demand came increased sales revenues, higher player salaries, and innovation in sports technology. One of theses innovations is the invention of the artificial turf "Astro Turf."

Astro Turf was created by three Monsanto employees; James M. Faria, Donald L. Elbert, and Robert T. Wright in 1965. It was originally named "Chemgrass," but was later renamed the more appealing "Astro Turf" during the patenting phase. One of the first artificial-turf stadiums was the Houston Astrodome. As years went on, many stadiums and high school fields have made the transition to artificial turf. In fact, Astro Turf is being used in residential and commercial housing projects as a low-maintenance alternative to grass and sod lawns.

From an owner's (or groundkeeper's) perspective, Astro-Turf is a modern marvel. The need for irrigation is eliminated, conditions are not scathed by average wear and tear, and most importantly; the field requires an extremely low amount of work for upkeep. The main debate for and against AstroTurf comes from the players and spectators with regards to the affect that artificial-turf has on the game. Some players prefer playing on real grass rather than artificial-turf. Some purist fans contest that the game should be played under the same conditions that their sports ancestors played in. Whether it be for comfort, experience, or just for fear of change; other players and spectators simply seem to carry a suspicion regarding artificial turf.

There are many benefits enjoyed by the use of artificial turf. Games can be played under most conditions with no detriment to the condition of the turf. Field conditions are not decaying throughout the game. Many fields are commonly multipurpose facilities. With the use of Astro turf, conditions are not affected by these extreme wear on the field. Concerts, multiple sports games, and other miscellaneous damaging conditions are not an issue with artificial turf as they are with its natural cousin. Many players enjoy playing on Astro Turfs because of the consistency of the field conditions. There is much less worry over slipping, and injuries from field-related obstacles such as ruts aren't an issue on artificial- turf.

Unfortunately, nearly every positive advancement will still have drawbacks. Astro Turf is no exception. Abrasion injuries are much more common, especially in sports like football where the clothing does not provide coverage to all of a player's skin. Another common affliction is a sports injury known as Turf toe. Additionally, artificial turfs tends to have a higher temperature than natural grass, which is a problem in already high temperature environments.

As the use of Astro Turfs continues to thrive and grow, enhancements to the original design will continue to make it a better product and solve some of its problems. By incorporating yarns and rubbers, they are already well on their way to making artificial turf a must have for any professional stadium, college stadium, or high school field k9 turf.

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