Data obtained through a survey by the Voice of San Diego shows that very few public schools in San Diego county are conducting regular field tests to monitor the hardness of turf fields. Only a few school districts could report having ever tested their fields, and of those, several conducted one test immediately after installation and then never again.
The G-Max test measures the hardness of a turf field by dropping a weight on the surface and measuring how quickly the weight is slowed. The test is conducted at diverse points on the field and multiple drops are made at each point. An average of those scores is taken as the field score. A newly installed field will often score around 100 gs on the G-Max test, and scores up to 200 gs are still considered acceptable for play.
Grossmont Union High School District executive secretary Catherine Melick responded to the Voice of San Diego in defense of her school’s practices, saying, “We don’t routinely conduct GMAX testing given the FieldTurf product that is installed at our sites is widely installed throughout Southern California and has undergone extensive industry-wide testing deeming it the safest synthetic turf field.”
However, turf fields are known to harden over time as rubber infill gets washed away or sandy infill mixtures are compacted. Though it is not legally required of schools to conduct regular testing, many field contracts include stipulation for G-Max testing at least every other year, and many San Diego schools who neglect field tests do so in violation of their contracts and at the risk of injury to their students.
According to John Schedler, owner of the consulting firm Baraka Sport, “From a liability standpoint, it just makes no sense for schools to not make sure that that athletic field system is safe. It’s a very expensive piece of athletic equipment that requires maintenance and tuning and their kids play on it daily.”