Editor's Desk - September 2009
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A Little Education Goes a Long Way

Whether yours is an indoor facility with basketball courts, group exercise rooms and a fitness center or your park features sports fields and playgrounds, you need to give careful consideration to the surfaces you use.

After all, using the wrong surface can increase the risk of injury for the players and participants in your programs, teams and events. Using the right surface not only can help protect them from injury, reducing your risk of liability, but it also can extend the life of your facility when you pay proper attention to maintenance. But how do you know which type of surface is right for your situation, for your environment, for the use and abuse your members, players and community give your facility day in and day out, week in and week out, from season to season or all year long?

A little education can go a long way toward helping you determine what's right for your facility. And there are new surfaces, new options coming to the market all the time. There is plenty of innovation in this area. Manufacturers of court surfaces create new synthetic surfaces, while the wooden surfaces and subfloors get ever more innovative. The manufacturers of synthetic turf get more creative about infill and drainage solutions, as managers of natural turf fields develop their knowledge and ability to help their fields weather more abuse. Playground safety surfaces come onto the market that help protect kids from falls while ensuring better access for those with disabilities. All of this adds up to an ever-increasing universe of knowledge, and somehow, you've got to stay on top of it.

And on top of that, it seems like a new worry or concern pops up every few months, whether it's chemicals in the playground safety surface or MRSA on synthetic turf fields.

The key to addressing these issues and knowing what's right for your situation is learning as much as you can, asking for help, and making a decision with plenty of community and expert interaction and input.

Let us get the ball rolling for you. In your hands, you've got our annual guide to recreation and sports surfaces. On these pages we consider some of the benefits and drawbacks of various types of surfaces, and we look at some of the general maintenance advice the experts give. But this is just a start. We point to a number of resources in these pages you can turn to for even more information on your specific needs. Use those resources, educate yourself, and you'll be armed with the knowledge you need when you're ready to renovate your facility, replace your surfacing or build something new.


Emily Tipping
Editorial Director, Recreation Management