22 August, 2005

A Question About Sport Trends

Based off the KRT Wire story, the Contra Costa Times (and the San Jose Mercury News) have a good piece of reporting out tonight regarding the post-game death of Thomas Herrion. But I saw one line and experienced a big "hmmmmmm" moment:
Thirty-nine NFL players weighed more than 300 pounds in 1990.

There were 378 300-pounders on preseason rosters last year.

Fifty-eight of 61 offensive linemen at February's NFL scouting combine weighed at least 300 pounds. Two others weighed 298 pounds and one tipped the scales at 299.

Whatever happened to technique?

Yes, indeedy. Whatever did happen to technique being the deciding factor in football? Or most sports, for that matter? Basketball is the same way, with it being highly rare that someone under six feet being drafted. Hockey is another ditto, with height and weight increasingly becoming a factor in the scouting reports. Baseball does the same, with more height equating to more reach on the field and more force at the plate.

Part of it, I can already see. Physical dimensions are mostly preset due to the specific genetic make-up of the athlete. Technique can be trained into muscle memory. That much is simple enough for me to see.

What I can't see, though, is if there would be a benefit to training less hefty guys in techniques for out-maneuvering those guys that have to move around an extra 50 pounds or so. If basic physics is remembered correctly, if Player A weighs 255 pounds and Player B weighs 305 pounds, Player B would need to expend more energy on a per-play basis to achieve the same range of motion as Player A, which has the effect of decreasing the long-term performance of Player B. This difference becomes more prominent when the difference in weight is in body fat, which has absolutely zero positive effect on raw physical performance.

If I had a bunch of money to throw around, I'd set up someone to seriously look into this concept. Regretfully, I don't have any cash to throw around right now (not even for a new bed), so all I can do is hope that someone out there decides to start a link-fest (not too bloody likely, given my almost-negative-readership right now) and give the concept of "normal"-sized professional players a serious scientific study.

POSTSCRIPT: Please note the use of quotations for the word normal in the last paragraph. I'm not suggesting that the next trend in professional sports be guys that are 5'5" and 140 pounds... But if you happen to be interested, let me know so I can get an agent! 'Cause that'd be a physical dimension that happens to fit me perfectly.

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