Here are a few sports-related items that caught my eye today. First, a story from a news Web site in England about a team using inflatable soccer goalposts. The goals were used in a match between Hackbridge Primary School and the Stanley Park Juniors. The PVC iGoal inflates on the spot, has a built-in net, and looks pretty much like the "real" thing. In addition to portability, there's a safety advantage, too. A significant number of injuries occur every year when kids hang on portable soccer goals. I wonder how the ball rebounds off of the inflatable goals, especially in comparison to wood and metal posts and crossbars. Now if they could only make a pitch that's pre-mowed and lined. No, wait, they do! But that brings me to the second sports-related link of the day. In the past few weeks, I've seen a number of stories questioning the safety of artificial turf. This story from USA Today, for example, reported that a half-dozen artificial fields in New York and New Jersey have been closed because of concern about high levels of lead in the turf fibers. Now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating.
The closed fields include four New Jersey surfaces — in Jersey City, Newark, Hoboken and at the College of New Jersey in Ewing — as well as a high school field in Cicero, N.Y., that were found to contain high levels of lead. Another closed high school field in Liverpool, N.Y. is being tested. New Jersey health officials discovered the lead, used in pigment to color some fields, in the turf fibers. Kids and athletes could be exposed by inhaling or swallowing lead-laced turf fibers or "dust" kicked up by those playing on the fields, state epidemiologist Eddy Bresnitz says. There have been no known cases of illness attributed to the fields, but at least four of the closed fields will be torn up and replaced with new artificial surfaces.Other fields around the United States are being tested, and California is looking into whether signs should be posted near artificial turf fields warning that users could be exposed to toxic chemicals. Artificial turf manufacturers, meanwhile, say the product is safe. They held a news conference yesterday to present findings from an "expert panel" that concluded, in part, that lead does not leach from synthetic turf, and the "amount of ingested turf required to pose a threat is absurdly unrealistic."