The Constant Change in Sports
The changing face of sports is progressing steadily.
With the umpire camera, viewers can see a game as if they were playing middle linebacker.
The fans know the speed of a Pedro Martinez fastball instantly and can see just how high Vince Carter leaps while completing one of his gravity-defying dunks.
With all these technological advances the most important gains have benefited the athletes themselves.
New medical procedures, knowledge of nutrition, and advanced facilities and equipment have helped to enhance athletic ability and extend the careers of players. There was a time when an athlete with a knee injury faced major surgery just to find out what ailed a player. Technology has made it possible for players to find the root of a problem without missing months of playing time.
“Diagnostic techniques like MRI and arthroscope (surgery) were paramount in sports medicine,” Oakland Raiders trainer Rod Martin said.
Martin has worked for the Raiders for 21 years and has seen the evolution of rehabilitation and prevention methods. “A knowledge of nutrition and more body awareness,” are factors Martin credits with athletes being better prepared physically. “Preconditioning, weights and running.”
Martin also works with athletes rehabbing injuries. He said with new technology, not only are players preventing injuries better, but they also return to play faster than ever.
In some cases, players come back better than ever. Remember in 1998, UCLA wide receiver Freddie Mitchell suffered a gruesome break of his right femur in the second game of the year. Mitchell was able to return to the field — the same season to play in the Rose Bowl.
Now, Mitchell is one of the best wideouts in America. If he chooses to leave school for the NFL, he’ll definitely be a top pick. Should he return to UCLA, he’ll be one of the best receivers in the country and a possible Heisman candidate.
With the exception of Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, it looks like most teams are concerned about the surfaces their players compete on. The Meadowlands switched to a grass field this season. Both the Jets and Giants lost key players while playing on the turf to non-contact injuries.The most recent was last season when Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde went down with a torn Achilles’.
While no one has been able to prove artificial turf is sole cause these injuries, (former Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino suffered the same injury on grass) teams are looking at ways to improve where players play.
Even if there is no proof that artificial turf is directly related to injury, players overwhelmingly would prefer not to play on it.A 1996 survey conducted by the National Football League Players’ Association found 86.7 percent of players dislike playing on artificial turf.
When it comes to injuries, 93.4 percent felt artificial turf is more likely to contribute to injury. With such complaints, it’s no surprise the NFL is out to find more comfortable playing surfaces. “Playing surfaces are changing,” Martin said. “There’s sports turf, which we don’t know a lot about.” Nike even has its own playing surface, Fieldturf, used by among others, the University of Nebraska football team.