In 2021, SFMA released to the industry its “Best Management Practices for the Sports Field Manager: A Professional Guide for Sports Field Management.” The guide is a comprehensive compilation of 12 topic areas developed by subject matter experts. More than 20 academics, environmentalists and practitioners collaborated on the 18-month project.
The guide is free to any individual or group who wants to use it. Sections include:
Planning, Design, and Construction
Cultural Practices: Mowing
Cultural Practices: Nutrient Management
Cultural Practices: Irrigation
Cultural Practices: Cultivation and Surface Management
Cultural Practices: Integrated Pest Management
Uses of the BMPs vary. Some in the industry are using the document to provide verified information to their administration and to their constituents on why they are doing certain practices. The guide is helping to educate employers on the need for environmental stewardship and the value of a sports field manager. Others use it to validate why their facility needs to invest in better field management resources, such as supplies and equipment. It is also being used as a staff training tool so that the crew better understands why they do certain tasks, and to also educate other departments on sports field management. Commercial members have found it useful to help educate customers on environmental best practices.
Using it as the core platform of their government relations program, the Mid Atlantic chapter of the SFMA (MASTMA) developed a version that is customized to its region. It has helped MASTMA, together with its government relations firm, to educate legislators about the work of sports field professionals and protect the sports field management industry from unnecessary legislative barriers. MASTMA has held workshops to educate its chapter members on how to effectively use its guide. Some chapters have engaged academics to teach their content at workshops and academics have also used it in the classroom as part of their curriculum.
SFMA has two versions: one is a national document covering federal standards and best management practices. The second is a customizable Word template for chapters and other organizations to use to advance their government relations efforts. That version can be edited to fit the needs for a specific region, state or facility. Customization of this version of the document is allowed, but certain areas have been locked to maintain the integrity of the information. Both versions are copyright free and available at no charge.
The BMPs also include a How-to-Use Guide. Both versions and the use guide are available online and can be found at sportsfieldmanagement.org, under the “Environmental” section of the “Institute” tab. The guide has had more than 6,000 page views, and the importance of using it was presented at a well-attended session at the recent SFMA national conference in January.
The New England Chapter of SFMA (NESTMA) is just starting its journey to customize the guide for use by its chapter members and to validate to legislators the environmental stewardship of New England sports field managers.