ARLINGTON — High school football is, by its very nature, one rough sport. But in Arlington, it may be a bit rougher than players expected.
"I got up, didn’t feel it at first," said 15-year-old defensive end Vicente McGeath, recalling a recent injury. "Then I walked away, looked down at my leg, and it was bleeding.I was like, 'Oh, that's a problem.'"
The problem is the turf on his home field at Lamar High School. His mother, Phyllis McGeath, is not pleased.
"The field is not at the quality it’s supposed to be," she said. "It's coming up; it's falling apart."
"It's loose," Vicente added. "Almost like gravel."
He described teammates suffering "turf burn" on a regular basis, and being unable to grip cleats into the playing surface.
The turf isn't just painful; it's now also at the center of a $1 million lawsuit filed by Arlington the Independent School District against FieldTurf USA, Inc. and FieldTurf Tarkett USA Holdings, Inc.
In 2007, the district spent nearly $1.7 million leveling fields and installing turf at Lamar High School and Sam Houston High School. The lawsuit alleges that as early as November 2010, the turf proved to be "defective," and even though FieldTurf allegedly admitted there was a problem, they never made repairs.
The turf is still under warranty, so now the district is going to court.
The district wouldn't let News 8 on the fields to inspect conditions, but people using it on Monday — including Lamar alum Beth Noulson — noticed a problem.
"From what I can tell, there’s a dip in the field," said the former marching band member.
According to district spokeswoman Leslie Johnston, games this year at both fields will go on as scheduled. But mom Phyllis McGeath worries litigation may prolong a fix.
"With all the news right now in the NFL, about concussions and keeping the children safe, you would just think that would be the priority," she said.
Arlington ISD could not comment about anything — including safety concerns — because of the litigation. We attempted three times to contact FieldTurf for comment, but no one ever got back to us.