School hopes shock pad is safer

Officials at Jackson R-2 School District in Missouri hope extra investment in a shock pad will make new synthetic turf surfaces that much safer for student-athletes.

Jackson High School’s football and soccer fields currently feature natural grass, but district superintendent John Link seems convinced that synthetic turf is the safer alternative, and that additional investment in a shock pad beneath each surface will help prevent concussions caused when players’ heads hit the ground. Both projects, which will include adding fencing and a perimeter walkway around the football field, are estimated to cost $1.8 million total.

“We are going to expend a little bit more money then we normally would,” Link told CBS affiliate KFVS. “We want our players, our coaches and the community to be proud of the facility. If it saves one student from having a concussion it’s worth it. If it doesn’t we’ve done all we could.”

Link expects the underlying shock pads to outlast by four to seven years their respective field installations, which typically come with an eight-year warranty. “If and when the turf has to be replaced, the shock pad doesn’t have to be replaced if it’s in good standing, and it will get tested,” said Link, who’s in good company when giving shock pads serious consideration for their injury-mitigation potential.

Shock pads are the focus of a documentary titled “Shocked: A Hidden Factor in the Sports Concussion Crisis,” which debuted in January on the multi-platform sports network Stadium. At the time of the premier, AB spoke to NFL Hall of Famer and documentary producer Brett Favre, who said, “There’s no way you would let your child go out on the football field and play tackle football without a helmet. You wouldn’t even consider that. But you would let your kid go out in a helmet and play on the hardest surface out there. You just don’t think of the surface as a piece of equipment like a helmet or thigh pad or shoulder pads, but in reality it is. And I’ll be honest with you, I never thought of it that way either. There is something out there that is safer, and we have to press the issue and ask questions about the surface.” – by Paul Steinbach, Athletic Business