Make your home page

Purdue prof on artificial turf for football: ‘We don’t have all the data yet’

Purdue expert breaks down artificial turf vs. natural grass

INDIANAPOLIS, (WISH) — The season-ending injury to Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers has reignited the debate over the safety of artificial turf on football fields.

The topic sparked discussion from NFL players and led experts to reevaluate the pros and cons between playing surfaces.

Cale Bigelow, a turf grass scientist and professor at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, is at the forefront of this conversation. He has analyzed natural and artificial turfgrass in sports settings.

While natural grass remains the preferred choice for many athletes, Bigelow says, it can be more susceptible to wear and tear during periods of heavy use.

In contrast, synthetic fields tend to endure the rigors of sports more efficiently, he says.

However, the big question – what’s safer? – remains unanswered.

Bigelow explains that data is lacking, and multiple studies are ongoing to evaluate safety factors and injury rates in both natural and synthetic fields. He suggests that safety considerations depend on various factors, including the athlete, the sport and the weather.

“The bottom line is we don’t have all the data yet. Several studies are being conducted throughout the United States and the world, examining safety factors and injury rates on natural grass compared to synthetic fields. The data seems to indicate that it varies, and it depends on various factors, including the athlete and the sport,” Bigelow said.

In conditions, such as frozen field surfaces, synthetic turf may offer greater safety advantages, according to Bigelow.

The NFL Players Union has called for a transition to natural grass for all playing fields.

Previous coverage