Letter of support from ABSC for shock pad at Gilman

ABSCGood news!  Toney Wright and the ABSC Board of Directors have written a letter to the JPA supporting the City of Berkeley and their consultant’s recommendation to install a shock pad at Gilman. Shock pads reduce concussions along with knee and ankle injuries and are required for fields with non-crumb rubber infill. Please see letter below.

JPA meeting date to vote on the turf replacement project was rescheduled to 5/24/17.

We’re hoping other clubs will write letters of support as well! Please encourage your sports club or school to write a letter to the JPA endorsing the installation of a shock pad under the Turf carpet, and let us know so we can monitor the progress! Thanks!

See letter below.

Dear members of the JPA,

Albany-Berkeley Soccer Club is the oldest and one of the largest youth soccer organizations in the East Bay. And we’ve been closely watching the plans to replace the Gilman turf fields this coming winter. We appreciate the work the City of Berkeley and their consultants, Carducci and Associates, have done to objectively evaluate the options available to us.

Representing our kids and their families, we feel compelled to strongly advocate for the installation of modern shock pad technology, as indicated by the independent consultants. As you know, an awareness of the risk of concussion is growing, and this awareness is changing how we play. In soccer, approximately 1/3 of concussions come from a player’s head striking the ground. This risk can be substantially mitigated by installing a shock pad, and reducing the extreme g-forces experienced in an impact.

A recent 2016 study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and reported by Scientific American, put the risk of concussion in soccer at about 1 injury in 2,000 ‘Athletic Experiences’ (AEs), defined as one player experiencing a game or a practice. The Gilman turf fields are well used and provide around 200,000 AEs in any given year. This means there are likely as many as 100 concussions experienced on the turf fields in a given year, with 31% of these coming from a head striking the ground.

So, more than thirty concussions each and every year on the Gilman turf fields could be mitigated with a shock-pad. Most concussions require athletes to miss between one and three weeks of play. In about 3.5% of concussion cases, a player is medically disqualified for an entire season or more.

Of course, there are other benefits to installing a fully modern field system: (1) the ability to inexpensively support green cork infill instead of the dreaded black tire-pellet infill and (2) reduced shock and injury to joints and tendons.

But concussion risk is very quantifiable and significant. These can be severe life-changing injuries.

Ten years ago, we weren’t aware of the dangers of concussion. Now we are. We have the medical facts and we have the statistics. Given this knowledge, we believe it’s both ethically and legally imperative to install a shock-pad to insure our kids are protected to the most modern standards when their heads strike the ground. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

Thank you,

– Toney Wright and the ABSC Board of Directors.

P.S.  The Scientific American reporting on concussion rates can be found at:

U.S. High School Soccer Concussions on the Rise

The City of Berkeley presentation included the 31% estimate on the number of soccer concussions from head-to-turf, which came from The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) National Electronic Injuries Surveillance System (NEISS). This data also shows that 3.5% of high school soccer players experience a concussion injury, or approximately 1% per year. Since these data are all self-report or school-report, the CPSC writeup says that it’s likely the data are still underreported. But these numbers support the high rates of injury cited in the BJSM study above.

The City of Berkeley presentation also includes the following background on the developing industry standards:

– A ‘G-Max’ of 200g is the standard the American Society of Testing Materials currently observes for when a field must be closed for repair.

– Turf industry guidelines are saying that any artificial turf should be less than 165g. There are industry observers saying the standard really should be 130g.

– The city’s consultants have seen many crumb rubber fields that test over 165g. Gilman turf tested at an average of 185g in 2012, and over 200g in several places, just four years after its 2008 installation!

– Pad companies warranty the performance of the field with a pad to being less than 135g for sixteen years — two installation cycles.

– The range for natural turf has been measured at 78 – 115g’s.

(Note:  An impact of 200g means a concussive force of 200 times the force of gravity.)

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