Thursday, June 16, 2016

Polymers and Soccer Balls

One of the things that I don't understand about soccer/football/futbol [*] is never ending changes in the design of the ball. You can read a little bit about the construction at Compound Interest, which briefly discusses some of the polymers used (urethane for the skin, butyl rubber for the bladder...). Every time there is a World Cup, out comes a new ball design. The 2014 World Cup had the Bazuca, which was used because nobody liked the knuckle ball characteristics of the Jabulani which was used in the 2010 World Cup. Before that, there was the Teamgeist and the Fevernova.

It's not just the World Cup that switches things up. The Euro Cup for instance, used the Tango 12 back in 2012 and this year is using the Beau Jeu.

Just the fact that these ball have names has me shaking my head. Can you imagine a baseball having a name and its design being changed every few years? Or an (American) football with a name? Part of the beauty of those sports is that the designs are so constant. Unless partially deflated, a football is a football is a football. Why would such an well established game as this need to keep changing the ball? (Obviously Adidas is making some money off of all this, but it can't be that much.)

The differences in these balls are not just the color, but the actual construction. The number of pieces in the skin and their joints are always in play and that translates into different aerodynamics, such as how the player can bend the ball when it is kicked. That means that every few years or so, or maybe even just between different competitions, the players have to adjust to a different ball.

Since FIFA is fine with such adjustments, why not start adjusting other things. Let's make the goal a couple of meters taller in all international competitions (that way guys wide open with the ball in front of the net with a sterling chance to score will have a harder time sailing it clear over the top). Don't worry - the keepers will adjust.

[*] Other things I don't understand include:
  • Why can't the players do a better job of drawing a foul? You can see better acting at a 6th grade school play. Surely there must be some actors who are soccer fans that would be thrilled to help coach that skill
  • Why don't they have retractable/removable flags in the corners? There are no other obstructions anywhere on the field except in the corners. I think we could devise a simple solution.
  • Hooliganism

Previous Years

June 16, 2015 - When does the "chemistry" disappear in a polymerization?

June 16, 2011 - UV Abosrption and Sun Protection Factors

June 16, 2009 - A sign of economic turnaround?


Jake said...

Baseball changes its rules and equipment all the time. Just last year the NCAA went to a "flat seamed" ball, and in the big leagues see things like the "live ball" versus "dead ball" eras. (And as for rules, MLB changed up the slide rules this year, and the classical big-effect rule change was the lowering of the mound back in the 60s).

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