As an owner of a sod business in Sandy, I am often asked what schools should be doing to maintain their sports fields. Schools should be mowing, fertilizing, overseeding, sodding, topdressing, aerating, rotating athletic play and watering their sports fields on a regular basis. Properly maintained sports fields prevent injuries.

Schools like Alta High and Bingham High in Jordan School District are trying something else: artificial turf. With assumptions of less maintenance and water, several hundred thousand dollars are being spent on each field. Scientific studies question those assumptions. Instead of mowing and fertilizing, schools are brushing, cleansing and disinfecting the field. Artificial turf requires watering on a regular basis during the day, otherwise it gets burning hot and too sticky. Other problems include increased pressure on joints and bones resulting in more injuries, harmful bacteria that can enter the body through a seemingly minor turf burn, contaminants from the crumb rubber surface that prove harmful to student athletes if accidentally inhaled or ingested and costly disposal problems when worn out artificial turf eventually ends up at the dump.

Many colleges and universities are tearing out and disposing of old artificial turf fields and reinstalling natural grass. Utah schools should be careful not give in to overstatements or unsubstantiated claims of artificial turf.

Peter Bell