Increased growth of participation and attendance means an increase in new field construction and renovations. High quality fields require extensive planning and maintenance; they will not happen by chance. Even fields built to the highest standards and established with the appropriate grass will not continue to perform if they are not used and maintained properly. Athletic field management combines the science of growing turfgrass and the art of maintaining sports turf to produce safe and aesthetically pleasing playing areas.
The use of athletic facilities is at an all time high. Population growth translates into more children participating in athletics. The explosion in athletic opportunities for girls and women has doubled the use of some facilities, and resulted in the construction of thousands of new ones. Soccer, football and baseball comprise the primary sports utilizing a turf surface. In addition to participation, attendance at sporting events is increasing.
Soccer is the number two sport behind basketball in total numbers of youth participants in the US. In this country, soccer has grown an average of 10% in each of the last 10 years. The total U.S. participation is currently over 18 million with approximately 40% women.
Youth baseball and softball participation by young people is on a rise. Most of this increase is due to the number of girls playing high school softball, which has increased by 37% in this decade. Organized softball play by adults has dropped off in the 1990s, while baseball participation has remained relatively steady at the 15-million mark during the 1990s.
Data indicate that tackle football has seen a slight decline in youth participation in recent years. This decline may be due to competition from other activities appealing to youth, such as in-line skating, roller hockey, and mountain biking. Also, football participation may not see increases experienced in soccer and softball since it typically does not benefit from the increased participation from female athletes.
Home attendance at NCAA college football games in 1998 surpassed the 37-million mark for the first time in history. The National Football League (NFL) averaged almost 1 million in combined attendance each weekend (15 games) in 1997.
Current Athletic Field Research Areas - Jason Kruse
- Evaluation of Fertilizer Programming and Traffic on Athletic Fields
- Evaluation of Perennial Ryegrass Spring Transition of Perennial Ryegrasses on Athletic Fields.
- Correlation of Soil Moisture and Surface Hardness. Techniques for Evaluation of Traction on Athletic Fields.
- Influence of Light Quality and Quantity on Bermudagrass Growth.
- Evaluation of Drought Stress Tolerance on Athletic Fields