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Coaches confidential: Nashville high school football coaches on artificial turf vs grass fields

People in football circles have been talking turf lately.

Is artificial turf unsafe compared to natural grass? Can high schools afford to pass up the versatility of artificial turf?

The Tennessean recently asked Nashville area coaches to anonymously answer a variety of questions about high school football for our Coaches Confidential series.

We will be publishing answers to questions periodically in the TSSAA playoffs.

What are your thoughts on playing on artificial turf vs. grass, and have recent reports of NFL players wanting to play on grass changed your mind?

Mowing for TSSAA football games eats into preparation time

“I have to mow my field three times a week with a busted reel mower. It only has two reels that are fully functional. I paint for the middle school games and our high school. If they got an artificial field, I would have about 15 more hours during the week with my family. But there is not shot of having that (in our county).”

“Grass (is better), all day. Turf has its advantages, but player safety and overall game play on a well-managed grass field is for sure the way to go. On a bad grass field (vs.) turf, I would take turf all day.”

“The grass fields’ wear and tear makes it difficult to play on in November. If we only played 8-10 games like the NFL, grass might be better. But one year we had 23 football events, not counting band competitions, soccer, lacrosse, track meets, etc. Turf has been a great benefit for our entire school.”

“Artificial turf is a huge competitive advantage. It allows you to practice safely and effectively in rainy conditions. We have seen no increased injuries due to turf.”

Artificial turf vs. grass is a safety issue

“Schools in Metropolitan areas, I understand. If you don't have the resources to maintain a safe natural grass playing field for a school that plays five different sports on it, then put turf down, it is safer than a natural grass surface with holes, dirt and mud in it and provides many more opportunities for the student athletes.”

“There is zero disadvantage or risk of injury to playing on turf at the high school level. The guys at the NFL are a larger mass and more force being driven into the ground at any moment. For high school coaches who are also teachers, turf provides you hundreds of hours for not painting lines, mowing, aerating, fertilizing, weed eating, edging, and so on and allows you to go home to the family after practice. There's no issue with field usage for other teams as well if the field is wet or damp. Anyone who says grass is ‘safer’ just doesn't have turf. There have been zero injuries at our (turf) field for four years.”

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“I love turf. I had it at a previous school and there were no more injuries than before — I actually would say less. I think there is data to substantiate that claim. More injuries in the NFL, about the same for college and less for high school.”

“Obviously turf looks better. It allows you to practice on it (more). We did get a Turf Tank Robot so painting the field isn't as bad as it once was with a grass field.”

Reach sports writer Tyler Palmateer at tpalmateer@tennessean.com and on the X platform, formerly Twitter, @tpalmateer83.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: TSSAA football playoffs: Nashville area coaches discuss turf vs grass