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Thorpe, Ian

Ian Thorpe

1982-

Australian swimmer

Athletes in the men's competitive swimming arena typically reach their physical peak just after the age of twenty. Yet while only a teenager Ian Thorpe repeatedly set and broke a number of world freestyle records. His accomplishments left the sports world in awe, as he repeatedly won gold medals in international competition. The 200-, 400-, and 800-meter freestyle swims proved to be his personal domain. At age seventeen he was the youngest man on the Australian Men's Olympic team for 2000. His outstanding performance left observers to speculate that this was a mere glimpse of what he might accomplish at the Olympics in Athens in 2004.

Thorpe was born on October 13, 1982, near Sydney, in suburban Milperra. He is the second child and only son of Ken and Margaret Thorpe. His mother, a schoolteacher, placed great emphasis on the importance of proper speech, and Thorpe took her message to hearteven as a young child his articulation rivaled that of an adult, so much that Thorpe, " Seemed more like a 21-year-old [than a child]," according to his second-grade teacher.

Thorpe's father, a gardener, was the son of a semi-professional cricket player, which some say is the de facto national sport of Australia. Although some consideration was given to steering young Ian Thorpe toward that sport, he was righteously clumsy and displayed little aptitude for the game. Ultimately he learned to swim instead.

Got His Feet Wet

Thorpe first took to the water as an eight-year-old, out of frustration from sitting on the pool deck and waiting for his sister, Christina, who was then a competitive

swimmer. Eventually he jumped into the water spontaneously. A special buoyancy to Thorpe's body was evident very quickly; he had an innate feel for the water, so it seemed. Although he was hampered initially by an allergy to the chlorine in the pool, he outgrew the condition within a few years.

Swimming casually at first, at the Padstow swim club, Thorpe's talent was obvious to Doug Frost, the owner of the club and a professional coach. Frost identified Thorpe's talent and offered him a spot on the club's training squad.

Thorpe went into training at the age of nine, swimming initially less than two miles per week. He doubled his workouts at age ten, and added a third weekly session at age eleven. By age twelve, Thorpe was practicing five times weekly, and swimming between 9.5-11 miles every week. That year he began participating in the Australian junior national competition where he won an impressive nine gold medals at the championships in 1996.

After increasing his practice schedule to include daily workouts, at age thirteen Thorpe was swimming as much as eighteen miles per week. An all-A student at East Hills Boys Technology High School, in 1998 Thorpe was forced to choose between swimming and formal academics. Swimming then became the center of his life. He added intensive aerobics and endurance training to his regimen and at age fourteen increased his practice time to one session daily, adding a second daily session on a bi-weekly basis. Thorpe at that time was swimming as much as thirty miles every week. He expanded his training schedule once more, swimming as much as six hours per day and up to sixty-two miles per week. In those days he set a personal best of 4:10:66 in the 400-meter freestyle.

As Thorpe approached physical maturity, he developed a long, lanky, thick-chested frame and large thighs. This barrel-chested appearanceless broad in the shoulders and dramatically less narrow at the hips-distinguished him from his peers in men's competitive swimming. In time it became evident that his buoyant physique and instinctive flair for the fluid mechanics of the pool afforded him a competitive edge.

International Competition

Thorpe first attracted attention outside of the sports world when at age fourteen he became the youngest male ever to earn a spot on the Australian national swimming team. In 1997 he won second place at the Pan Pacific Games in Fukuoka, Japan, where he impressed the media with his quiet reserve and well-spoken ways.

Thorpe's athletic acumen improved as he matured. Barreling through the water and traveling at 3.1 meters per stroke, his talent was attributed in part to his expansive reach. At 6-feet-5-inches tall and 215 pounds, he is not only tall, but also sports unusually large feet, which at size seventeen are seven sizes larger than the average adult man. This disproportionate big footedness, according to some critics, is his greatest asset as an athlete. His long and flexible feet provide excellent propulsion in the water andto Thorpe's dismayare often compared to flippers. His kick, a six-beat stroke, works like a small propeller, which he synchronizes with his arms at a ratio of six kicks to one upper body stroke. He swims like a highly efficient machine. South African swimmer Ryk Neethling compared the volatility of Thorpe's wake to the inside of a washing machine. Said Neethling, who was quoted in Sydney's Morning Herald, "It can be hell out there behind him; it is so much more turbulent than normal."

With continued guidance from Frost and Don Talbot, the Australian national coach, Thorpe swam to a world championship in the men's freestyle in 1998 at age fifteen. He was the youngest world champion in history of that sport. The win generated public speculation about his Olympic potential for the Sydney games in 2000.

Thorpe stunned the world at the Pan Pacific Games in May 1999 in his native Sydney when at age sixteen he broke the world record in the 400-meter freestyle. Thorpe, with a time of 3:41:83, shaved very close to three full seconds from the old record. In the 200-meter freestyle that year he logged a world record time of 1:46:34, which he personally bested at the same competition, to leave the world record at 1:46:00 by the end of the meet. In all, Thorpe set four world records in four days, including the fastest lap on record in the 4×200 freestyle relay. The Australians left with a total of thirteen gold medals and lauded Thorpe as their hero. "He could be the greatest swimmer we've ever had," Talbot was quoted by Time. "I have never seen anything like that," said former Olympian Randy Gaines, and Thorpe himself made no attempt to conceal his own amazement at the results of the competition.

In setting a world record at the new Olympic stadium at Sydney that year, Thorpe won a bonus prize of $16,000 for being the first to break a record in the new Olympic pool, which was built in preparation for the 2000 Olympics. Thorpe generously donated the money to cancer research and to a youth crisis prevention program. In part for his generosity, he was named Young Australian of the Year for 1999.

Chronology

1982 Born October 13 in Milperra, New South Wales, Australia
1999 Breaks four world records at the Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney in May; sets and breaks the world 200-meter freestyle record at the same meet; records the fastest time ever in a lap of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay
2000 Breaks his own world record in the 400-meter freestyle; appears on Friends
2002 Hosts his own television show, Undercover Angels ; replaces coach Doug Frost with assistant coach Tracey Menzies

Related Biography: Coach Doug Frost

Doug Frost is the owner of the Padstow Indoor Club, which he operates at his personal 25-meter indoor pool. He maintains a level three (highest) accreditation with the Australian Coaching Council and also with the Australian Swimming Federation (also level three).

In 1997 Frost joined the staff of Sutherland Aquatic Center outside of Sydney. That year he was named also to the staff of the Australian national team for the Pan Pacific Games. In 1998 he served on the national coaching staff for the World Championship Games. Frost maintains memberships on the board of the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association.

A forward-thinking, technology-driven sports professional, Frost was honored as the 1997 Australian Age Group Coach of the Year. In 2001 and 2002 he received back-to-back Coach of the Year honors.

It was at Padstow that Frost first had an opportunity to observe Thorpe in 1990. For the next twelve years he worked with Thorpe, initiating the swimmer into competition at age twelve. In 1996 Frost coached Thorpe to nine gold medals at the junior nationals. In 2002, after three Olympic gold medals and nearly a score of world records, Frost parted ways with Thorpe in what Thorpe described as an amicable split.

Australians love swimmers, and Thorpe as a sports prodigy attained near-superstar status, even before his first Olympic appearance. By the end of 1999, negotiations were underway for sponsorships and future endorsements. Banks, airlines, car manufactures, and others rushed to establish associations with Thorpe: Qantas, Adidas, Mazda, Sydney Water, and Omega, among others, joined his sponsorship team.

XXVII Olympiad

Thorpe in 2000, at age seventeen, became the youngest male ever to swim with the Australian Olympic team. At the Sydney Olympics that year, he was entered tentatively in six out of seven allowable events. Still growing and already 6-feet-4-inches tall by then, Thorpe weighed 200 pounds with an estimated body fat level of 7 percent, or 8 percent lower than the average male in his age group. In anticipation of Thorpe's Olympic performance, Dan Williams noted and reported in Time that Thorpe seemed to, "Move water like the moon. [With] cartoon elasticity [and] the longest stroke in swimming, strangely beautiful and, to the competition, lethal."

In the 400-meter freestyle race that year, Thorpe broke his own world record for the second time in his career, finishing with a time of 3:40:59. He won gold medals with his team in the 4×100 and 4×200-meter freestyle relays. The 4×100-meter event, witnessed by a capacity crowd of 17,500 spectators, was an historic first-time win for the Australian team and marked the first Olympic loss ever for the United States in that event. Leigh Montville said of that race in Sports Illustrated, "Maybe the best [race] in history." He called Thorpe, "A jolt of high-voltage electricity that went through his sport and his country," and compared the teenager at once to Tom Sawyer and Ricky Martin. Swimmer Gary Hall Jr. of the losing U.S. team was quoted widely when he said, "I doff my swimming cap to Ian Thorpe!" Talbot meanwhile predicted that Thorpe might be the swimmer of the century.

In the only second-place finish of his Olympic experience that summer, Thorpe finished .48 seconds behind 22-year-old Pieter van don Hoogenband of the Netherlands in the 200-meter freestyle. At the final celebration, Thorpe was selected by his team to carry the Australian national flag into the Olympic closing ceremonies.

With his first Olympic competition behind him, Thorpe went on tour. Among the highlights of his travels he made a guest appearance at designer Giorgio Armani's runway show during a visit to New York and appeared on the Jay Leno Show. Thorpe went also to Washington D.C., where he met with then U.S. President Bill Clinton and the first family.

More World Records

At the Australian Open Championships at Hobart in 2001, Thorpe set new world records in the 200-meter and 800-meter freestyle and won national titles in the 100-meter, 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter freestyle. The four-race sweep had not been accomplished nationally since John Konrads accomplished the feat in 1959.

At the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Thorpe claimed six medals, and set three world records. His performances sparked rumors of hall of fame glory when he logged 1:44:06 minutes for the 200-meter freestyle, 3:40:17 in the 400-meter, and 7:39:16 in the 800-meter race. As Craig Lord wrote in Swimming World, "It is not so much the victory by which he is measured, but, instead, it is the margin of victory as this momentum-gaining Torpedo fires ten years ahead of his time!"

For the fourth time, in 2002 Thorpe broke his own world record in the 400-meter freestyle event, shaving.09 seconds from his 2001 record, to log a new time of 3:40:08. He added eleven gold medals to his collection that season, taking six golds at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester and an additional five at the Pan Pacific Games in Yokohama, Japan.

Amid a flurry of rumors, beginning in August of 2002, Thorpe announced plans to move to Europe, to train for the Athens Olympics in 2004. He confirmed also an amicable split from Frost, his personal coach, after a dozen years of resounding victories. Frost had brought the swimmer to seventeen world records and three Olympic gold medals during their one dozen years together as a coach-athlete team.

Awards and Accomplishments

At age 15, was the youngest male swimmer ever to win a world championship.
Thorpe has won eight gold medals, more than any athlete in the Federation Internationale de Natation Amateur.
1997 Silver medal (400-meter freestyle) at the Pan Pacific Games
1998 Two gold medals at the World Championships; won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur
1999, 2001-02 Named Australian Swimmer of the Year; named World
2000 Three Olympics gold medals, and two silver; listed among People 's "Sexiest Men Alive: Awesome Aussies"
2001 Six gold medals at the World Championships; set three individual world records in the 200-meter, 400-meter, and 800-meter freestyles
2002 Received the American International Athlete Trophy; set a new world record in the 400-meter freestyle; won six gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester; won five gold medals at the Pan Pacific Games in Yokohama, Japan

Thorpe announced further his intention to continue in training with Frost's assistant, Tracey Menzies, as his head coach. Menzies, who was named Rookie Coach of the Year in 2000, brought no other coaching credentials to the new job, leaving observers to question the validity of the coaching change after so much success with Frost. Australian champion Dawn Fraser, among others, expressed concern in particular over the unproven record of Menzies and suggested that Thorpe might have erred in judgment. Thorpe acknowledged the difficulty of making such a drastic decision. Regardless, he asserted a personal need for a change, citing an ebb of passion, and stated that he might retire from competitive swimming rather than continue to train with Frost. "I either had to make the change or walk away I was not enjoying myself," he said and was quoted on Swim Line on the World Wide Web.

Personal Glimpse

Truly an international hero, Thorpe speaks French fluently, and in the early 2000s was under consideration as a possible youth ambassador for the United Nations. He received the American International Athlete Trophy (formerly the Jesse Owens Award) in 2002.

As an honorary ambassador for tourism to Japan, he is ranked among the top three most recognized faces by the Japanese public, with his image appearing on Japanese buses and on giant video screens in bars. Too young to drink alcohol himself, Thorpe's personal interests veer toward child victims of terminal illness and other non-frivolous social causes. He is the co-founder the Ian Thorpe Foundation For Youth Trust, a program for children with life-threatening illness.

In addition to television guest appearances, Thorpe was seen as himself in a documentary, Olympics Exposed with Andrew Denton. A modest actor, Thorpe made a guest appearance on his favorite television show, Friends; the episode premiered on November 16, 2000. He is the host of his own cable television show, Undercover Angels, featuring Simone Kessell, Jackie O, and Katie Underwood. In keeping with Thorpe's deep sense of social consciousness, the format of the program provides a means of bringing succor to real people in need. His media manager, David Flaskas, stays busy reviewing and fielding offers for Thorpe, who after proving himself among the best swimmers in the world has yet to enter his prime.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: Office: Australian Swimming Inc., P.O. Box 940, Dickson, ACT 2602, Australia. Online: www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Field/8824/thorpe.html.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Periodicals

Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), (August 28, 1999).

Newsweek (September 2000): 73.

Sports Illustrated (September 25, 2000): 44.

Swimming World (September 2001): 24.

Time (September 11, 2000): 76.

Time International (September 6, 1999): 54.

Time International (November 29, 1999).

Time International (September 25, 2000): 64.

Other

"How Doug Frost Prepared His Prize Pupil World Champion Ian Thorpe." www.geocities.com/dawler/prizepupil.htm (February 9, 2003).

"Late 9 News," SwimInfo. (September 12, 2002).www.swiminfo.com/lane9/news/4130.asp (February 9, 2003).

"Thorpe may be 'too big for his boots': Fraser." ABC News Online (September 13, 2002).http://abc.net.au/news/2002/09/item20020913051326_1.html (February 9, 2003).

Sketch by G. Cooksey

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Artificial Turf

Artificial Turf

Background

Artificial turf is a surfacing material used to imitate grass. It is generally used in areas where grass cannot grow, or in areas where grass maintenance is impossible or undesired. Artificial turf is used mainly in sports stadiums and arenas, but can also be found on playgrounds and in other spaces.

Artificial turf has been manufactured since the early 1960s, and was originally produced by Chemstrand Company (later renamed Monsanto Textiles Company). It is produced using manufacturing processes similar to those used in the carpet industry. Since the 1960s, the product has been improved through new designs and better materials. The newest synthetic turf products have been chemically treated to be resistant to ultraviolet rays, and the materials have been improved to be more wear-resistant, less abrasive, and, for some applications, more similar to natural grass.

History

In the early 1950s, the tufting process was invented. A large number of needles insert filaments of fiber into a fabric backing. Then a flexible adhesive like polyurethane or polyvinyl chloride is used to bind the fibers to the backing. This is the procedure used for the majority of residential and commercial carpets. A tufting machine can produce a length of carpet that is 15 ft (4.6 m) wide and more than 3 ft (1 m) long in one minute.

In the early 1960s, the Ford Foundation, as part of its mission to advance human achievement, asked science and industry to develop synthetic playing surfaces for urban spaces. They hoped to give urban children year-round play areas with better play quality and more uses than the traditional concrete, asphalt, and compacted soil of small urban playgrounds. In 1964, the first installation of the new playing surface called Chemgrass was installed at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island.

In 1966, artificial turf was first used in professional major-league sports and gained its most famous brand name when the Astrodome was opened in Houston, Texas. By the first game of the 1966 season, artificial turf was installed, and the brand name Chemgrass was changed to AstroTurf. (Although the name AstroTurf is used as a common name for all types of artificial turf, the name is more accurately used only for the products of the AstroTurf Manufacturing Company.)

Artificial turf also found its way into the applications for which it was originally conceived, and artificial turf was installed at many inner-city playgrounds. Some schools and recreation centers took advantage of artificial turfs properties to convert building roofs into "grassy" play areas.

After the success of the Astrodome installation, the artificial turf market expanded with other manufacturers entering the field, most notably the 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) Company with its version known as Tartan Turf. The widespread acceptance of artificial turf also led to the boom in closed and domed stadium construction around the world.

In the early 1970s, artificial turf came under scrutiny due to safety and quality concerns. Some installations, often those done by the number of companies that sprang up to cash in on the trend, began to deteriorate. The turf would wear too quickly, seams would come apart, and the top layer would soon degrade from exposure to sunlight. Athletes and team doctors began to complain about the artificial surfaces, and blamed the turf for friction burns and blisters. Natural turf yields to the force of a blow, but an arm or leg driven along the unyielding surface of artificial turf is more likely to be injured. Since artificial turf does not have the same cooling effects as natural turf, surface temperatures can be 30° warmer above the artificial surfaces. Baseball players claimed that a ball would bounce harder and in less predictable ways, and some soccer players claimed that the artificial surface makes the ball roll faster, directly affecting the game. However, the National Football League and the Stanford Research Institute declared in 1974 that artificial turf was not a health hazard to professional football players, and its use continued to spread.

In the 1990s, biological turf began to make a comeback when a marketing of nostalgia in professional sport resulted in the re-emergence of outdoor stadiums. Many universities—responding to the nostalgia, advances in grass biology, and the fears about increased risk of injury on artificial turf—began to reinstall natural turf systems. However, natural turf systems continue to require sunlight and maintenance (mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating), and the surface may deteriorate in heavy rain. Artificial turf offers a surface that is nearly maintenance-free, does not require sunlight, and has a drainage system. Recent developments in the artificial turf industry are new systems that have simulated blades of grass supported by an infill material so the "grass" does not compact. The resulting product is closer to the look and feel of grass than the older, rug-like systems. Because of these factors, artificial turf will probably continue to be a turf surface option for communities, schools, and professional sports teams.

Dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World," the Houston Astrodome opened April 9, 1965 for the first major-league baseball game ever played indoors. Americans hailed the massive $48.9-million concrete, steel, and plastic structure as a historic engineering feat. A rigid dome shielded the 150,000-ft2 (13,935 m2) playing field of natural grass from the Texas heat, wind, and rain. The Astrodome was the world's first permanently covered stadium.

The roof—642 ft (196 m) in diameter and constructed on the principles of American architect Buckminster Fuller's geodesic dome—contained 4,596 rectangular panes of Lucite, an acrylic material designed to allow the sun to shine through without casting shadows. Still, the Houston Astros baseball team soon complained that the resulting glare made it difficult to catch fly balls. Stadium officials tinted the Lucite gray, but the tint was not good for the grass, which turned a sickly shade of brown. As a result, when the team took to the field for the 1966 season, their spikes dug into another revolutionary baseball first: synthetic grass. Today, AstroTurf—as the material was called—blankets more than 500 sports arenas in 32 countries.

The Astrodome underwent $60 million worth of renovations to increase its seating capacity in 1989. As the years went on, new technology developed making this "Eighth Wonder" outdated. The Astros played their last game at the Astrodome on October 9, 1999 before moving to Enron Field. The same year, the Houston Oilers relocated to Tennessee and were renamed the Tennessee Titans. Despite these losses, the Astrodome still hosts over 300 events a year.

Raw Materials

The quality of the raw materials is crucial to the performance of turf systems. Almost anything used as a carpet backing has been used for the backing material, from jute to plastic to polyester. High quality artificial turf uses polyester tire cord for the backing.

The fibers that make up the blades of "grass" are made of nylon or polypropylene and can be manufactured in different ways. The nylon blades can be produced in thin sheets that are cut into strips or extruded through molds to produce fibers with a round or oval cross-section. The extruded product results in blades that feel and act more like biological grass.

Cushioning systems are made from rubber compounds or from polyester foam. Rubber tires are sometimes used in the composition of the rubber base, and some of the materials used in backing can come from plastic or rubber recycling programs. The thread used to sew the pads together and also the top fabric panels has to meet the same criteria of strength, color retention, and durability as the rest of the system. Care and experience must also be applied to the selection of the adhesives used to bond all the components together.

The Manufacturing
Process

The "grass" part of a turf system is made with the same tufting techniques used in the manufacture of carpets.

  1. The first step is to blend the proprietary ingredients together in a hopper. Dyes and chemicals are added to give the turf its traditional green color and to protect it from the ultraviolet rays from the sun.
  2. After the batch has been thoroughly blended, it is fed into a large steel mixer. The batch is automatically mixed until it has a thick, taffy-like consistency.
  3. The thickened liquid is then fed into an extruder, and exits in a long, thin strand of material.
  4. The strands are placed on a carding machine and spun into a loose rope. The loose ropes are pulled, straightened, and woven into yarn. The nylon yarn is then wound onto large spools.
  5. The yarn is then heated to set the twisted shaped.
  6. Next, the yarn is taken to a tufting machine. The yarn is put on a bar with skewers (a reel) behind the tufting machine. It is then fed through a tube leading to the tufting needle. The needle pierces the primary backing of the turf and pushes the yarn into the loop. A looper, or flat hook, seizes and release the loop of nylon while the needle pulls back up; the backing is shifted forward and the needle once more pierces the backing further on. This process is carried out by several hundred needles, and several hundred rows of stitches are carried out per minute. The nylon yarn is now a carpet of artificial turf.
  7. The artificial turf carpet is now rolled under a dispenser that spreads a coating of latex onto the underside of the turf. At the same time, a strong secondary backing is also coated with latex. Both of these are then rolled onto a marriage roller, which forms them into a sandwich and seals them together.
  8. The artificial turf is then placed under heat lamps to cure the latex.
  9. The turf is fed through a machine that clips off any tufts that rise above its uniform surface.
  10. Then the turf is rolled into large v/lengths and packaged. The rolls are then shipped to the wholesaler.

Installation

Artificial turf installation and maintenance is as important as its construction.

  1. The base of the installation, which is either concrete or compacted soil, must be leveled by a bulldozer and then smoothed by a steam roller. Uneven surfaces will still be evident once the turf is supplied.
  2. For outdoor applications, intricate drainage systems must be installed, since the underlying surface can absorb little, if any, rainwater.
  3. Turf systems can be either filled or unfilled. A filled system is designed so that once it is installed, a material such as crumbled cork, rubber pellets, or sand (or a mixture) is spread over the turf and raked down in between the fibers. The material helps support the blades of fiber, and also provides a surface with some give, that feels more like the soil under a natural grass surface. Filled systems have some limitations, however. Filling material like cork may break down or the filling material can become contaminated with dirt and become compacted. In either case the blades are no longer supported. Maintenance may require removing and replacing all of the fill.

Quality Control

Because of the high use of artificial turf and the constant scrutiny by professional athletes, new products must undergo a number of tests as they are being developed. In 1994, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) published a list of standard methods for the testing of synthetic turf systems. It contains over two dozen tests for the properties of turf systems.

As part of ASTM's testing, the backing fabric is tested for strength. The force it takes to separate the individual tufts or blades is also measured. In tufted turf, this test usually measures the strength of the adhesive involved. To test how resistant the turf is to abrasion, the ASTM recommends testing the fabric by running it under an abrasive head made of spring steel, while another ASTM test measures how abrasive the turf will be to the players. The ASTM also has tests that measure the shock absorbency of the turf system, and there are also tests to see how well the turf stands up during the course of a game or even prolonged tournament play.

Several quality checks are performed during the manufacturing process, as well. For example, according to AstroTurf Incorporated, the following quality checks are performed:19 checks for the raw materials, eight checks for extrusion, six checks for unfinished fabric, and 14 checks for finished fabric.

Byproducts/Waste

Defected artificial turf batches are discarded as are nylon yarn that is damaged. Completed turf is generally recycled, but not reused as artificial turf. The earth that is cleared from the installation site is transported to a landfill and discarded. Older turf that has been worn down is typically recycled.

The arguments about the environmental impact of artificial versus biological turf continue. Both create large amount of water run-off, adding to sewage problems. Chemical processes are used in the manufacture of raw materials for artificial turf, but most biological grass in stadium applications requires chemicals in the form of fertilizer and pesticides for maintenance.

The Future

The engineering and design of both artificial and biological turf systems are constantly improving. As new stadiums are built, the owners and architects strive to give a more old-fashioned feel to the structures, which usually means no dome or a dome that allows the use of biological turf.

Recent installations of artificial turf have included new advancements that serve both economic and environmental needs. Large holding tanks are built beneath outdoor installations. The water that runs off the surface is held in the tanks, and used later for watering practice fields or nearby lawns.

Another recent development has been a hybrid of filled turf and biological grass. Once artificial turf is installed, it is filled not with rubber or sand, but with soil. Grass seed is then planted in the soil, nurtured and grown to a height above that of the artificial turf. The resulting combination combines the feel, look, and comfort of biological turf with the resilience and resistance to tearing and divots of artificial turf. Of course, it also requires all the maintenance of both systems, and it is not suitable for most indoor applications.

Where to Learn More

Books

Schmidt. Natural and Artificial Playing Fields: Characteristics and Safety Features. Portland: Book News, Inc., 1990.

Other

"Manufacturing Information." AstroTurf Web Page. December 2001. <http://www.astroturf.com>.

Wilson, Nicholas. A Comparison of Filled Artificial Turf with Conventional Alternatives. Portland: 2000.

StevenGuerriero

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