How to Conduct a Game-day Field Inspection

Leading up to a football or soccer game, follow these steps to ensure a safe playing surface.

For every competition playing field in the country, a sports turf manager should be responsible for helping ensure the field is aesthetically pleasing, plays fair for all contestants and, above all, is safe. The few hours leading up to a football or soccer game should be spent ensuring no detail has been overlooked. The following are some considerations for your game-day field inspection:

Check that the field has no divots or holes into which an athlete can step and be injured.

If holes exist, fill them with sand to get you through the game until a small piece of sod can be used as a patch. Check all irrigation heads on the field to ensure that each is properly installed on grade and that the riser has retracted completely inside the irrigation body. One of the most dangerous game day situations I ever witnessed was at the 50-yard-line of a major college field where an irrigation quick-coupler was installed six inches below turf level and the metal lid was missing. It was a broken ankle waiting to happen.

Walk your field carefully and look for metal or other sharp objects.

Often, these pieces are left behind by a mower, a team or a band. Also, inspect goalpost pads to ensure they are installed correctly and will provide protection as designed.

Closely inspect sideline areas.

Look for anything that could come into contact with a player who exits the field of play at full speed. It's up to you to keep a "safe zone" around the perimeter of your field. You want players putting forth extra effort and you want to ensure they can safely do so. A painted restraining line around the field can direct sideline dwellers such as media members and cheerleaders to keep a relatively safe distance from the action.

Inspect built-in field features.

These include ground sockets, which can be hazardous to an athlete sliding out of bounds. If they have sharp edges, replace them. Also, fields encircled by a running track oftentimes have surface-mounted stormwater drain intakes. In many instances, these intakes are positioned in low points of a track infield and the grade change can be extremely dangerous for a hard-charging athlete to negotiate.

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