A Change for the Better?

Posted: November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

Change is inevitable, but is it always good? Athletes today are, bigger,faster and getting paid a lot more than their past 3. Does this mean the games themselves need to change as well? Is it the demand for better athletes that drives technological advances or is it just the larger revenues that fuel these improvements?

Money is the biggest fuel to all the changes in sports. Athletes earn more, tickets cost more, stadiums are getting more expensive, and richer people are willing to spend ridiculous on creating the next big franchise. Look at the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys owner Jerry Jones help bring a 1.3 billion dollar stadium to life. The stadium can seat around 80,000 people and is home to the biggest high-definition TV hanging over the field at 152 by 72 feet. The goal with the TV was to bring fans closer to the game, but isn’t that just as good as watching the game at home sitting on your couch. Look at two of the oldest stadiums in Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago cubs, and Fenway Park, where the Boston Redsox Play. Neither of those teams have a TV screen and fans never feel closer to their teams then in Boston and Chicago. So are theses billion dollar stadiums necessary? Some teams find just adding on and improving old stadiums is sufficient.  Michigan stadium, home of NCAA football’s Wolverines, didn’t have lights until just this year and they hosted their first night game. This game broke the single game record for that stadium seating 114,804 people. Even some of the historic fields are being torn down to be replaced by state of the art stadiums. The original Yankee stadium, “the house that Ruth built”, stood for 85 years and hosted multiple world series; however, limited seating and internal problems led to its destruction in 2008. Money is being tosses around by billionaires trying to bring in more fans and create better teams, and for what? With the goal to bring in more money.

With more capital involved in the world of sports other companies want to get involved as well. Brands try to get their label noticed by creating the best equipment for the athletes. Jerseys are changing every year. Companies attempt to combine better looks with superior feel to uniforms in order to win the chance to be worn by the players. This has created some outrageous looks along with some expensive jerseys. In attempt to sell more merchandise teams no longer have just one or two jerseys. There are football teams out there,  the Oregon Ducks, who have so many combinations of uniforms they can wear its impossible to cover them all in one season. And how did they get to that point? Well, University of Oregon is in Eugene which happens to be the same place the Nike headquarters. Nike has used the Ducks to create a new generation of fans that want cooler and more unique jerseys. The amount of money Nike has put into UofO is incredible and some would even think unfair, but many other teams have jumped on the bandwagon of having special uniforms including Arizona State University.  So is this change just a big ploy by big sports merchandise corporations or do teams really want to change the look of their team?

How far is taking improving equipment too far though? In the 2008 World Cup the new ball made by Adidas was supposed to have less stitches giving you a better feel. What was really created was a ball the knuckled when kicked making it harder for goalies to follow the trajectory of the ball. I have always questioned football gloves. Those things are like glue. How long is till all a receiver has to do is stick his hand out and the ball just sticks. Is that even fair? On the bright side though new helmets are being created to help prevent further injuries to the head and neck area. It just a question as to when will they take improving the technology of equipment too far just to give a team an advantage.

With more fans and again more money involved everyone want to be the one covering sports. ESPN has most resources and the biggest choke hold on the sporting world but many others are there for coverage as well. No sports is more important to cover in America than the NFL. It has the largest audience and largest amount paid for advertising. One of the biggest TV deals of all time was when CBS one the rights to cover the NFL and more recently Fox; however, they were not able to keep ESPN completely out of the mix when they gained the right to cover Monday Night Football. This year several different networks battled to win the right to cover the next world cup. This deal is estimated to cost around $425 million dollars. That just shows how much demand there is to cover different sports. With all these networks battling it out this can be good for the consumer. Now there are multiple channels dedicated to just sports, all the ESPN channels, Fox Sports, NFL Network, and Sunday NFL Ticket the list could go on for a while. Viewing sports is also no longer limited to just TV. Many games are now streaming on your computer and mobile device.

Money helps sports grow and develop. Athletes will continue to get better and take advantage of future innovations in equipment and uniforms I just hope it never gets to a point where it’s who own the best tools rather than the best players. I look forward to future changes in sports and hope they only make them more fun to watch.

Fields of the Future

Posted: October 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

The field, pitch, diamond or park what ever you call it people need something to play on. In the past in was just grass and dirt. Now there are many other options.

The first professional team to use something besides grass was funny enough was the Houston Astros. The Houston baseball team put in Astroturf in the Astrodome in 1966. Astroturf grew in popularity due to its durability. It could be used indoor or outdoor. It was a good grass replacement, but the hard surface turned out to be terrible on athletes joints. Turf developers knew they needed to find something that replicated grass better. Field Turf  was designed to feel more like a grass surface and had much more give than Astroturf. The new turf had a much more complicated setup. The surface is composed of monofilament polyethylene blend fibers tufted into a polypropylene backing. The infill is composed of a bottom layer of silica sand, a middle layer which is a mixture of sand and cryogenic rubber and a top layer of only rubber. In normal people terms its longer turf with sand and rubber as a cushion.

From personal experience of playing on grass, dirt, Astroturf, and Field Turf there are positives and negatives to each one.

Grass has the most natural feel to it. The ball does not roll overly fast, but more often than not the field isn’t perfectly flat. If there is rain, puddles form extremely quickly. In bad weather baseball is impossible, soccer is a struggle and football is more fun.

Dirt…. sucks. Enough said. Playing on a beach is the only time ill excuse playing on a sand field.

Astroturf was a nice option from playing on grass or dirt; however, the hard surface made it almost painful to play on. You don’t know pain until you have tried to slid on an Astroturf field during a hot summer day. In soccer you had to have the most simple touch on the ball or it would roll way too far. The only sport I think it’s still acceptable to play on this type of field is in baseball. Most infields still are made of dirt and easy to slide on.




The invention of Field turf was one of the happiest day of my life. It has a great feel to it and doesn’t fall apart in rough weather. You can wear cleats or tennis shoes depending on how new the field is. It works with all sports because it is pretty much a grass replacement. In fact the only downfall to field turf is the awful pieces of rubber you will find in your socks for the rest of your life.

Turf also gives you one other ability… Colors!

Strike of the Future

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Baseball is a game full of close calls. Each play starts with a pitch, and unless the ball is hit the umpire must call a ball or a strike. Umpires must make crucial decisions each play therefore they are always under scrutiny for making even the closest of calls wrong. Now there is something that is making their job even harder.

During the 2004 season Fox introduced the strike zone tracer for every pitch. This was a graphic that would show the approximate spot of the ball when it crosses the plate. Then it shows whether when the ball crossed if it was in-side or out-side the strike zone. These, of course, are approximate locations and the umpire still has the final call, but this can cause some controversy for viewers. Imagine the furry of a fan watching the game on TV when the final pitch of the game is called strike three when the strike zone tracer clearly showed it was a ball.

This brings up a couple of questions. One being if Major League Baseball should keep the strike zone tracer even though it undermines an umpires call, and two if they are to keep it should it be used for instant replay?

There isn’t a sport out there that compares to baseball when it comes to arguing with the officials. I guess when you play a game as slow as baseball a heated argument may be the only exciting event that happens, but I digress. This strike zone tracer is only going to increase the validity of managers who decide  to throw a fit and scream in the face of the home plate umpire. Granted this technology is only for the viewers, but with some of the crazed fans out there I would not want a crucial call to be questioned because of an  on-screen graphic.

In football they have fixed most errors by referees by implementing the ability for coaches to challenge play calls. This has reduced the amount of wrong calls and helped reduce the amount of controversial plays. In the MLB managers are able to challenge home runs, but why not balls and strikes. This would be a great way for umpires to take a second look at pitches. With the technology in place it could even be a very fast review; however, I do not believe this will happen nor should it. Baseball is already excruciatingly slow and using instant replay would slow it down even more. Even using the cameras some pitches are too close to call.  I think its something useful and lets fans get a closer look at pitches, but should continue be seen only by fans and not used in the game itself.

Blogging In Sports

Posted: October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Blogging is becoming more popular and is bringing new perspectives to the world of sports. These blogs give any “Joe” a chance to voice their opinion, but what does this bring to journalism in sports?

There are multiple different sports blogs out there. Some popular national ones include Deadspin.com and YardBarker.com. These two can sometimes consist of very researched blogs by writers who develop followers with outstanding writing and outside the lines stories;however, they can also be stories full of gossip and rumors. It is this type of blogging that brings in a new flavor and can help the world of sports. This is partially because they are not distracted by outside factors. These writers are not worried about the money, advertisements, or even if they are being too biased like a person who is paid to cover sports. Where the problem lies is in the actual background research and knowledge involved. This, along with an overwhelming amount of opinion. Now since these are blogs it is apparent that they will contain more opinion than a sports column, but some of these stories appear to be legit so it can be hard for individuals to tell the difference. If someone goes to one of these sites I would hope they are doing it for the pleasure of reading someones opinion on a team or player and not for research.

There are also many local blogs you can read that cover your favorite teams. Here in Arizona the most used ones are Revengeofthebirds.com for the Cardinals, ValleyoftheSuns.com for the Suns, and AZsnakepit.com for the Diamondbacks. All of the following are carefully researched, have multiple skilled writers creating content and are typically backed by big media outlets. I recommend using these blogs for a unique look at your regional athletics. Those three also contain advertisements and a receive a little cash flow, but are written by true fans who know how to give fans a different possibly deeper look into a team. Something that a big name journalist may not. Sports Blogs covering teams in Arizona are not limited to these three by any means. Every pro team typically has multiple sites with fans spilling their every thought. You can even find blogs about semi-pro teams such as the Arizona Rattlers. If you are interested in finding more about a team I recommend taking a look at different sports blogs to get a feel for the writer’s style. Each site brings its own flair to the table.

Something that is becoming more popular as blogging becomes more frequently used is blogs by popular sports journalists. Just like journalist who cover the news, sports journalist can no longer be one-dimensional. It is now common for sports casters to be expected to write a blog along with their previous job. Voices on sports radio are required to write follow ups to shows to keep readers interested while they are off the air. Even on 620KTAR sports radio after Burns and Gambo do their show there is a story published on Arizonasports.com. As soon as they are off the air they are back on their computer writing their next blog post. This is because viewers want more. They can look up stats anywhere and you can only be so biased when on the air, but as soon as you put the blog tag on it the possibilities are endless.  ESPN.com has caught on and has a whole page dedicated to their team of writers and their blogs. You can also check out ESPN Page 2. This is a place where sports writers can voice their true opinions about teams and players and not be ridiculed for favoring one way or the other. (ok they still will, but they have more of a defense) Either way you look at it blogs are the future. They’re faster, more opinionated (positive or negative), and more  common than not more fun to read.  Check out your teams blog, you’ll probably like what you find.

Taking Jerseys too far?

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is directly technology directed, but it does have a lot to do with media and a team’s image. Are we taking Jerseys to far? Teams used to have one possibly two jerseys for home and away games. Now teams are unveiling multiple combinations of jerseys, to a point where they can wear something different for every game. The University of Oregon’s football team could create 383 different looks based on socks, pants, jerseys, helmets and shoes. I feel like that is a bit much.

This year in football it was the trendy thing to come out with new updated uniforms. It is normal for teams to come out with new jerseys that are similar to past ones; however, more frequently teams are taking on a whole new fresh look. Not all teams have been successful in this. The twitter world blew up with people bashing the University of Maryland’s newest look. The team tried to incorporate the Maryland crest into their uniforms, but they turned out more like clown costumes. Arizona State was another who found problems with their new logo. Apparently the new pitchfork became popular among the gang community in Arizona. The Bulldogs from the University of Georgia have converted to becoming the Power Rangers.

The other thing trending in NCAA Football is the one game jersey. Boise State has worn a unique jersey for each of their opening games the last two years.  The Ducks show up in something new every game. There are also games in which the military schools, (Army, Navy, and the Air Force) sport special patriotic jerseys. So could this be a problem or is it just me?

This is obviously a big scheme by major sporting gear suppliers like Nike, Adidas and Under Armor. They are the ones fueling this era of borderline outrageous uniforms. I feel like this is just taking away from the game and its traditions. You lose track of what your school colors even are. With new technologies it is easier to produce these jerseys, but at what cost.

Football is not the only one facing this jersey craze. In soccer teams release a new uniform set every year. This includes a home, away, and a 3rd kit. Teams with years of history and traditions are straying away and changing their look as a team. I guess as long as people continue to purchase merchandise they’ll continue to produce new apparel.


Direct TV NFL Sunday Ticket…

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

…is actually more advanced than I thought they were. I previously complained that the Direct TV program had not brought the games to smart phones, but after further research and another annoying “fairy Sanders” commercial I discovered that it is possible to watch games on your phone.

New this to this season, Direct TV has brought a Mobile app to smart phones that allows you to watch NFL games live. This is a huge step in the right direction. More live sports need to be brought to our mobile devices. For years I have had to stare at game updates on my phone. NFL.com/wireless is still stuck giving viewers play-by-play stats. I get tired of waiting for it to update after 30 seconds only to find out nothing has happened yet. Now I can actually watch the plays as they happen in real time.

Do not get ahead of yourselves though. You can’t just go to the App Store or Android Market and download live TV. Unfortunately you must have the NFL Sunday Ticket package through Direct TV to purchase this product. This is a huge setback for anyone with cable TV. Moral of the story here is if you want all the football games when ever you want it would be a good idea to switch to Direct TV and take advantage of this opportunity. If not and don’t want to fork over the cash to switch to Direct TV then you may be  stuck watching what ever cable decides you are going to watch for a while.

I would be curious to see the numbers of subscribers after they unveiled the mobile TV app. Hopefully, for all the fans out there, they are positive n


Posted: September 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

Twitter has breached the gap between players and their fans. This social tool allows people the follow their favorite players on a closer level.

For those of you that don’t know what twitter is, it is a social networking tool that allows you to post “tweets” no longer than 140 characters about anything you want. This can contain videos, pictures links or just one’s thoughts in a small post. This lets your ‘followers’ know what you are doing, where you are or what you are currently thinking. For anyone who is a sports lover and is new to Twitter I am going to give you a few great players to follow and why.


@SteveNash This basketball star is just as fun to watch on as he is off the court. He is full of crazy antics and loves to post his silly videos on his twitter account. He is also a popular retweeter and commonly asks his followers for advice or questions he has.





@Shaq Another basketball player who is full of jokes. I know he is a retired player, but I couldn’t pass on the shaqtus. Always posting jokes and other funny stuff happening in his life now that he is no longer dominating the paint in the NBA.




@TaylorTwellman I had to put a soccer player on this list. Granted he is now retried due to head injuries, but this guy is the best if you want up to date posts on anything happening in the world of soccer. He goes to many MLS games and gives you an in-depth analysis to as many games as possible. Twellman will also reply to followers questions if it is relevant to a current soccer topic.





@ochocinco This list would not be complete without the twitter master Chad Ochocinco. With almost 3 million followers he has to be doing some

thing right. Almost no one posts more about anything and everything then this NFL wide receiver, sometimes even too much. He has been fined multiple times for trying to tweet during games.





@PeteCarroll I thought I would throw a coach in to finish off this list. Yes I’m a Seattle fan, so I’m a little bias, but Pete Carroll is a great person to follow. He always has positive things to say. (No matter how bad his team is) He will also post events for local fundraisers or help raise money for charities. Overall Pete is just a nice guy , but an average coach.






These are just a few great people to follow. I’m sure there will be more helpful hints for those of you on twitter along the way.