Want to start an argument in a sports bar? You must be a masochist, but whatever: just bring up artificial turf and say goodbye to the next few hours of your life.
However, a new study presented in early March at a meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has found that, in terms of injuries, artificial turf is just fine. It’s safe. There’s no greater injury risk associated with artificial turf compared to natural grass, which is more difficult to maintain, has higher maintenance costs, and doesn’t allow for longer playing hours.
For the study, Italian researchers examined injury rates for the 2011-2012 soccer season. A total of 2,580 play hours were analysed, with no statistical difference in injury rates occurring; for example, there were thirteen muscle strains recorded on artificial turf, and fourteen on grass.
Of course, there’s probably an American university out there that’ll want to replicate the study with gridiron football, given that a) the injury rate is much different and b) you can never really be sure when an Italian professional soccer player is injured.