Over the last few years, this site has championed rubber- and cork-infill artificial grass pitches as a safe alternative to natural grass competition surfaces in field hockey.
A couple of days ago, The Newark Star-Ledger published a series of reports called “The 100-Yard Deception,” outlining some questionable business practices on the part of the manufacturer of many of the original FieldTurf surfaces.
The story revolves around a line of turf pitches using a fiber called “Duraspine,” which seems to have a problem with wear in areas of the country where ultraviolet radiation is more prevalent. Some 20 percent of pitches using Duraspine have shown signs of premature wear and tear, and it took FieldTurf several years to acknowledge a problem when it came to wear.
The series is a cautionary tale of what can go wrong in business practices and when it comes to warranty follow-through. About a half-billion dollars worth of product is under question here.
A few things are, however, left unsaid in the story. One is that FieldTurf has gone away from the Duraspine model of grass blade, and now makes its pitches with a number of other fibers that go by names such as Revolution 360, XM6, and Vertex. The company still markets heavily towards the field hockey community, with a pair of specific pitches for HockeyGold and HockeySpeed on their main product website.
Also, there is not an accounting for the 80 percent of the FieldTurf sites which did not show premature wear and tear within the warranty period, which is eight years. Indeed, the story quotes customers who seem to be happy with the product.
But what is also unaddressed in the story are the questions which were raised by former U.S. women’s national team goalie Amy Griffin, who has collected names of soccer players — in particular, goalkeepers — who have developed cancer after playing on artificial grass.
That, apparently, is for another day.