How a synthetic field could impact PSU football players

Beaver Stadium, Centre County, Pa. - Penn State players can run drills and lift weights, but there's another key component to their performance and it's right under their feet.

In Beaver Stadium there's over 40,000 sq. ft. of real turf.

Nate Miller, Asst. Supervisor of PSU Outdoor Athletic Facilities, said staff maintains the field year-round.

"We take a lot of pride in in the process and we take a lot of pride in that finished product," Miller said.

Miller, also a member of the Sports Turf Management Association, said during football season it takes 18 staff members to irrigate, mow, paint, and tend the field.

Paul Curtis has been a groundskeeper for the university for 25 years.

He said you need three things for a quality field: attention to detail, reliable equipment "And the biggest thing i think is that the employees care. When people care, it makes for a beautiful product," Curtis said.

But not all universities are all natural.

On Saturday Penn State will play against Ohio State, which has a synthetic field.

Some question if players are  prone to more injuries on artificial turf.

According to a sports medicine study in 2013, researchers found during games the risk of leg injuries was three times more likely on a synthetic surface.

Curtis said real grass can better grip an athlete's cleats.

"Sometimes you'll see a big divot on our field, and you'll actually think that might just have saved a guy's knee," Curtis said.

Ultimately Miller said both options work, so long as they're managed correctly.

But he hopes he doesn't see the fake stuff in Beaver Stadium any time soon.

"Oh, I'd hate to see this place go synthetic. I don't think it's warranted, i don't think it's needed," Miller said.


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