Archive | September, 2011

Fantasy football gets a dose of reality

9 Sep

Fantasy football not only has 26 million participants, it has become so pervasive that its scores will now sit alongside real football scores.

Huh?

In a nutshell, Roger Goodell and the NFL have made the odd decision to display fantasy football results on the scoreboard at each NFL fixture.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told The New York Daily News: “We want you most of all to sit back and enjoy it – in our stadiums, on television, and wherever else you connect with the NFL. Football fans enjoying football is what we love.”

As much as I love fantasy football, this is a curious move. We go to the games for the game, not a multi-tiered informational experience. If I wanted that I could hook into my iPad and never leave the house. And anyone who’s at a game and more concerned with what their No.2 running back is doing on the other side of the country than the action in front of them, should seriously think about giving their seats up to someone who really wants to be at the game.

Sometimes the suits need to stop trying to be cool and just worry about the business at hand – providing a quality on-the-field product.

London Games will intro Albert

5 Sep

Next year’s London Olympics will see the debut of a new soccer ball, “The Albert”, affectionately named after the city’s Albert Hall.

A ball naming competition was recently opened to the public, with over 12,000 unique monikers submitted in a ten-day period, before the cheeky rhyming slang entry was selected. Adidas say they wanted to acknowledge the East End of London, which has become synonymous with the upcoming Games, and to also create some global intrigue.

Intrigue is one thing, but surely design is equally on Adidas’ mind after last year’s Jabulani debacle at the World Cup. That shiny number – famous for dipping on unsuspecting goalkeepers – was oddly constructed with just eight panels instead of the traditional 32. Apparently the architects were looking for a marketing angle instead of performance.

Such was the criticism of the last ball that scientists around the world later tested it and concluded its fewer panels and internal stitching made it as close to a perfect sphere as a ball has ever been. We can only hope Albert will be a little, well, fatter.

Imperfect spheres in sports like tennis, golf and cricket provide those games with their unique characteristics, where the trajectory and bounce, and players’ reactions to such movements, are part of the romance of each sport. The same is true of soccer, if not even more so.

That’s why The Albert needs to be dull and imperfect, true to the touch, instead of stealing the limelight like a right royal pain in the…

The new football’s design will remain under wraps until its official launch in spring 2012.