Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Ghana Fly Now

The words I thought I brought I left behind, so never mind

Upsets are a big part of what makes tournaments worth following (witness the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament), and if that's true, then the World Cup football tournament just got a whole lot more interesting.

Only a short while ago this afternoon, the Czech Republic lost to underdog Ghana, 2-0. The Czech Republic came into the World Cup ranked 2nd in the world, trouncing 5th-ranked USA in their World Cup opening match, 3-0. Meanwhile, Ghana is barely ranked in the top 50 and hadn't beaten a European team in over 30 years.

Even if you're not completely into a particular sport (and I'll admit that I'm that way with soccer football), you can still find yourself being drawn in by the storyline as a major tournament or sporting event unfolds. Even more so with international tournaments, where the differences between the countries' training programs, economies, forms of government, even the continents they're on, can be immense. The World Cup is easily one of those events where just the basic make-up of the tournament creates a breeding ground for memorable, wacked-out things to happen.

Oh, Balls!

In other news, thanks go to Off Wing Opinion, for pointing out that the balls being used during World Cup matches are made differently from regular soccer balls, causing them to flutter:

The new Adidas Teamgeist football, as it is called, has 14 panels instead of the 26 or 32 that traditionally create the hexagonal pattern. Fewer panels means fewer seams, which will make the ball behave more like a baseball.

Complex whirls of air cause a spinning ball to drift toward the side that's spinning away from the ball's direction of movement. A ball that's not spinning can bounce around unpredictably. Pitchers rely on this physics when throwing knuckleballs.

This seems like unnecessary trickery to me. Soccer Football has always been marketed as a "grassroots"-type of sport, I thought-- one where the kids in the sandlots could play using the same basic equipment that the top players in the world use. It doesn't seem fair to start using drastically different balls in the World Cup than are used during the rest of the year, in order to cross-up the goalies. This is almost like Major League Baseball using baseballs with different stitches just for the World Series, or the NFL using a different style of football just for the Super Bowl. I don't get it.


Anonymous alanah said...

Now I'm wondering about alternative pucks for the NHL in such a scenario. Perhaps something the size of a breath mint? But with blinking interior lights! Could increase scoring - plus we all know how much TV liked that flashing puck idea a few years ago.

(Geez, I gotta stop it with the sarcasm - I might give the NHL some dumb new ideas...)

6/17/06, 7:48 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Actually, I'm pretty sure that Charlie Finley tried to introduce an orange baseball back in the 70's. In any case, I almost swear I can see Major League Baseball definitely considering the possibilities here, now that their "juice" is being taken away from them.

6/17/06, 8:49 PM


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