The importance of innovative models or ideas for every sport cannot be undermined. It is important for every aspect of the game that fresh ideas are brought in to help with the progress and development of particular sports. Whether it’s new formations or even slight changes to equipment, it makes the game better and in turn allows for better athletes and performances. There’s no denying that certain members of the sporting world have sent their respective sports or clubs racing into a new frontier where performances and results are optimised and athletes are afforded the opportunity to keep up with their ever-changing environment.
Barcelona and the ‘false 9’
…back-line splitting across the penalty box…
There has already been much said about the way Barcelona play football, but completely revamping the way a team lines up and shifts formation mid-game is hugely impressive. With the back-line splitting across the penalty box and allowing room for a holding player to drop deep, it gives license for full-backs, specifically Dani Alves, to push further up the pitch and occupy space that would normally be filled by a winger. Lionel Messi’s position in the Barcelona attack has re-created the way we see the traditional ‘number 9.’ He’s not a big, imposing centre-forward that we’re used to seeing, rather a quick, creative option that roams in the centre of the pitch, dropping deep as well as latching onto through balls. Messi’s partnership with Cesc Fabregas has been particularly impressive, as the two have often switched position of creator and forward and have gelled fantastically well. The new brand of football? Perhaps. But teams will have to be phenomenally good.
NHL rules post lock-out
…stamp out hits to the head…
If there was one positive thing to come out of the 2004-05 NHL lock-out it was the re-working of some of the rules we were used to seeing in the game. Out went the ‘two line pass’ rule and in came an allowance that favoured a faster game with less stoppages. The goaltenders were not allowed to roam outside a newly-introduced designated area, thus giving skaters the freedom to play a ‘dump-and-chase’ style that often suffered at the hands of interfering goaltenders. Eventually, stricter rules were also introduced to stamp out hits to the head due to the high number of concussions that were being suffered over the past few seasons. A positive move on all levels, and something which was happily agreed to by every member of the NHL. Moves towards a faster, more exciting game? Absolutely. But also strict laws to make the game much safer at the same time.
…nothing more than a cheap supermarket football…
Now whether this new design of football manufactured by Adidas was a positive model is up for debate, but the official 2010 World Cup ball certainly caused a stir among many professionals. It was widely criticised as being nothing more than a cheap supermarket football and one that favoured strikers. Naturally, this came from a goalkeeper, but it was not just Julio Cesar who was having trouble with the ball; a number of strikers also voiced their displeasure at the ball which seemed to have a mind of its own, changing direction and sometimes having the opposite of a desired effect. Still, FIFA and Adidas did their best in doing what they thought would take the modern game forward and highlight the fact that the governing bodies were acting in the best interests of the game.
New models of bats in the MLB
…MLB hitters are bigger and stronger…
What Major League Baseball found highly concerning was the rate at which maple bats were snapping and causing serious harm to those on or around the field of play. It had dangerously come to the point where the bat was becoming a missile due to the various enhancements to players that were not being considered by manufacturers. The fact is, MLB hitters are bigger and stronger than they once were. Combined with the fact that the pitcher is releasing the ball at a greater speed will of course equate to less durable bats snapping in half. The MLB introduced regulations that stated the handle of the bat had to be thicker and the diameter of the barrels reduced.
Video Technology in football
…play the game in the dark ages.
It’s finally coming. Well, at least we hope. FIFA recently announced that it would make a “definitive decision” on whether to introduce video technology into the game after the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has come under enormous pressure to introduce technology and finally take the game into the 21st century. A regular feature of many other top level sports around the world, and yet football continues to play the game in the dark ages. The calls for video technology greatly increased following the 2010 World Cup finals in which Frank Lampard’s goal for England was wrongly ruled out. The governing body have, however, continued to state the introduction of video technology will disrupt the flow of the game and adds to talking points and general discussion following matches. Controversy seems a little more accurate in a time where controversial incidents are the norm for most football weekends.