Like any human endeavor, sports evolve over time. Science and technology fuel these changes, improving athletic equipment design, training, and the value of information gleaned from player statistics. From everyday recreational activities to the highest levels of competitive play, these innovations were real game-changers for sports. These breakthroughs, in my eyes, have had the biggest impact.
Baseball – Tommy John Surgery (1974)
Dr. Frank Jobe and Tommy John in trainer’s room at Dodger Stadium. [Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Dodgers]
Thousands of pitchers who play Major League Baseball have undergone the same elbow reconstruction surgery. First performed in 1974 by the orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank Jobe, the surgery was only an experiment when Dr. Jobe first tried it on Dodgers pitcher Tommy John. Today, the surgery is routine. Although arthroscopy has revolutionized the way surgeons approach orthopedics, Tommy John surgery hasn’t changed much (probably because Jobe designed the operation to be minimally invasive). Who knows? Pitchers such as Mariano Rivera, John Smoltz, and many others might have faded into oblivion, were it not for Dr. Jobe.
Football – Helmet Audio (1994)
Original patent drawing for HELMET RADIOS INCLUDING A TRANSISTOR AMPLIFIER (US 2904645-A)
Though the Cleveland Browns experimented with the idea of placing homemade radio receivers inside the helmet of quarterback George Ratterman in 1956, it wasn’t until 1994 that the NFL first allowed quarterbacks to use built-in radios inside their helmets to communicate with football coaches on the sidelines.
Tennis – Composite Tennis Rackets (1968)
1970s ad for Wilson’s T2000 tennis racket
Until the 1970s, tennis rackets were only fashioned out of wood. Although the functionality of wooden rackets improved with advancements in laminating technology (using thin layers of wood glued together) and in stringing methods, the rackets were still relatively heavy and the surface area of racket heads remained small. Compared to modern rackets used today, even the best-made wood rackets were unwieldy and lacking in power. Then, in 1968, Wilson introduced its T2000, the first steel racket on the market. The popularity of the T2000 racket skyrocketed after Jimmy Connors adopted it as his own.
Basketball – Breakaway Rims (1976)
That the NBA needed a new kind of basketball hoop became more and more obvious as slam-dunking became increasingly popular during the 1970s. If dunks didn’t damage the hoop completely, they shattered the backboard, putting the safety of players and spectators at risk. Not to mention that NBA games were often delayed for hours while the equipment was replaced. With a hunch that technology to build a better hoop must exist, Randy Albrecht, an assistant college basketball coach, approached his uncle Arthur Ehrat, a grain elevator worker, to explore the idea. Ehrat added a hinge and a spring from a John Deere cultivator to a basketball hoop rim. With the new setup, the iron basketball rim could bend–and immediately snap back into place–under pressure.
Time is a precious commodity. In a fast-paced, media-saturated culture, time and attention are finite resources. The unsurprising result of their scarcity: getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a high priority for many Americans. For those struggling to keep up with constant digital media activity and the demands of work and family, sleep is an inconvenience.
That so many see sleep as an inconvenience that hinders productivity is problematic, as research increasingly confirms that sleep is critical to human health and physiological well-being.
John Singer Sargent, Peter Harrison Sleeping, 1905 (image courtesy of WikiArt)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ascribes to the view that sleep and well-being are inextricably linked. The elite athlete believes getting a good night’s sleep is critical to his performance on the football field. Back in 2014, Brady detailed his sleep habits in a Sports Illustrated interview. Now, his bedtime routine is the subject of public conversation once again. As part of their Dream In Black campaign, Brady has teamed up with Simmons to promote Beautyrest Black, a luxury mattress line.
“Sleep is the ultimate luxury,” Brady says in an inaugural “Dream in Black” advertisement, which debuted this past May. Brady, who turns 39 in August, is at an age when most elite athletes–let alone NFL players–choose to retire. But Brady is determined to keep playing and getting plenty of sleep, he’s convinced, will help him prolong his football career. In his Beautyrest Black endorsement, Brady aims to raise public awareness of the importance of sleep and the crucial role it plays in human health. Brady hopes that the Simmons commercial, despite its playful tone, will motivate more people to take sleep more seriously.
It’s one of the greatest times of the year once again, sports fans. In American sporting history, the words ‘Spring Training’ ranks right up there as one of sport’s most energizing phrases that pull fans from their postseason slumbers.
After falling in the single-game playoff to the Houston Astros, our New York Yankees are back in Tampa, looking to improve on last year. Our club feels optimistic about its prospects too.
That includes catcher Brian McCann who loves our underrated rotation that includes starters CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and youngster Luis Severino. When talking about Severino, Joe Girardi compared him to a pitching legend. Girardi said, “I was around Greg Maddux when I was a young player…There was a ton of poise, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. And I feel like Sevvy is the same way. He knows what he wants to do.” Throw in our bolstered bullpen and it makes why we are feeling good this spring.
It’s not just the arms that have expectations high within the organizations. If the early games have shown what can come, the Didi Gregorius-to-Starlin Castro combination could prove lethal to baserunners. Meanwhile at the plate, both of their bats give fans hope that we’ll have runners in scoring position early and often.
The youth of the organization also give Yankee faithful hope as top prospects Jorge Mateo, Aaron Judge and pitcher James Kaprielian stood out in the first few weeks down in Florida. Whether they make the opening day roster or we eventually see them in the Bronx at some point this season, the future looks bright in the short and long-term for our club.
Spring training has been a great sign for our season ahead. Get ready for an exciting season ahead, fans. The Bronx Bombers will be back in town real soon.
March Madness begins on March 15th. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for this year’s tournament to kick off. Ever since Duke topped Wisconsin to close out last year’s championship, I and many of you, have clamored for it to start all over again.
Not many other sporting events match up to March Madness. In fact, only a few global events come to mind. When it comes to American viewership, March Madness is joined by the only the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Cup as sizable events that consume viewers in many ways. This got me wondering which event reigned supreme financially.
Thanks to Analee Kasudia and Fortune, I found a helpful infographic (below) that broke down all the 2014 events, except for the Olympics (for some financial figures from the Sochi games, click here).
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the biggest global event, the World Cup, generated the highest numbers from viewership (1 billion) to ticket prices for the final match ($7,066). Even when it came to a loss in employee productivity, the sport of the people’s ultimate event trumped all with $1.7 billion lost over the 2014 installment.
What might surprise you is March Madness’ financial gains as well. Over the 12 days of games (compared to the World Cup’s 32), March Madness raked in $9 billion in betting totals, $1.13 billion in ad revenue and boasted an average ticket price of $1,800 for the final game. Similar to the World Cup, March Madness cost companies $1.2 billion in lost worker productivity over its time.
In just one night, the Super Bowl held its own with $360 million in ad revenue, 114.4 million viewers (on 20 million for March Madness) and $3.9 billion in betting totals. Seeing as how many Americans pine for the day after the Super Bowl to be a national holiday, it should come as no surprise that the event costs companies $8.4 million in lost productivity the next day.
These figures didn’t present too many surprises, but it’s interesting to see where things shaped up during the last round of these events. How will they fare in 2018? Most likely, the positions will remain the same while the figures continue to trend upward as the world takes notice.
With the NFL coming back to Los Angeles next season, the league and two teams are certainly excited over the developments. Unfortunately, the fate of three teams hung in the balance with this move. For the once-again-L.A. Rams, their return to the Golden State is secure. But for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, some details remain unclear. If the dust settles as expected, the Chargers will join the Rams in the two-team stadium at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 season. However if things change once again, the Raiders could still find themselves moving from the Bay Area.
If Oakland does lose its football team, the biggest winner could end up being the Oakland A’s.
O.Co Stadium During Baseball Credit: Wikipedia user Minesweeper
The reason is because Oakland is the last of America’s former infatuation with multi-purpose stadiums. Starting with Washington D.C.’s RFK Stadium through countless other cities and purposes, dual sports stadiums dominated the 60s and 70s. As decades moved along, though, the trend began to die as each sport needed its own kind of stadium to adequately hold its events. In time, teams moved on to their own stadiums.
Since the Miami Marlins’ move out of its multi-purpose home a few years back, Oakland’s O.co stadium became the last of the dying breed. In 2014, the A’s wisely renewed its lease for the next ten years despite being frustrated about the park. However, as USA Today notes, with the Raiders looking like they’ll stay in town, the A’s now must decide if they’ll stay at the antiquated stadium or seek its own stadium within the county. If the Raiders somehow have a change in fate, the A’s could be the last team left in town once the Warriors move across the Bay–a major boost to the team’s leverage for a new Oakland home.
All this talk doesn’t give proper attention to the fans of Oakland that may suffer most. Right now, their sports history looks mostly intact, but the city is no stranger to losing their teams. Could it happen all over again? Looks like we’ll have to stay tuned as this saga could still turn a few more times.