There is a bit of family lore that has my now late father, as a young lad, playing soccer with a bunch of friends. During the course of the pick-up game he managed to collide with another player resulting in his shoulder being dislocated. Of course that was only diagnosed some hours later as my father, though unable to play, remained on the sidelines until the game came to an end. Why didn’t he seek medical attention sooner? Simple: they were playing with his ball. Rather than put an end to everyone’s fun by taking his ball and leaving, he waited until it was all over to go home and then on to the hospital.
It is understandable that when kids play sandlot soccer, or any other game, one of them has to supply the required ball, bat, puck or other equipment. However once the ultimate has been achieved, the major leagues, the ‘Bigs’ I’d like to think that a neutral third-party i.e. the league would be responsible for supplies.
Last Sunday’s NFL playoff game between the New England Patriots, a team I have followed for years, and the Indianapolis Colts may have been a blow-out, but it most certainly was not a blow-up. In what has become known as DeflateGate the Patriots are being accused of under-inflating balls thereby making them easier to catch when wet – it was raining.
An investigation has been launched and although it’s too late to do much now – perhaps a fine and the loss of a draft pick is what most think will happen – should the Pats be found guilty, they will sure look bad. But the NFL will look even worse.
It seems to me this whole thing could have been avoided by getting rid of the silly practice of allowing each team to use its own balls when on offense. No doubt these balls are inspected by the officials, but just the idea opens to door to controversy. To say nothing of special balls put into play for kicking!
What if Major League Baseball allowed pitchers to bring their own baseballs in from the bullpen? Get it scuffed just the way you want it for maximum grip, maybe a little tweak here and there. I’m exaggerating, but while the home team is responsible for a game supply of balls, it is the umpires who see to it that every pitch is thrown with an identical baseball.
Or perhaps the National Hockey League could allow goaltenders to supply the pucks. I imagine they would be the size of dinner plates; hard to shoot and easy to see.
I understand that home field/ice/court advantage gives teams some wiggle-room. If a baseball team is chock full of speedy runners, the infield grass can be left a wee bit long to slow down any bunted balls, making them harder for field. Canadian one dollar coins, or Loonies, can be frozen into the centre ice face-off dot, essentially guaranteeing an Olympic hockey victory or two!
The NFL should do away with “team” balls, if only to give the appearance of neutrality.