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The Press Box For May 20

By Staff | May 20, 2020

If you’ve been watching old sports footage, it seems like you can never get enough. I watched an old boxing match between Ali and Foreman the other night I’ve seen the match several times, but it was still exciting. The best one I’ve seen was the Sugar Ray Leanord and Roberto Duran match.

I saw an old clip of Babe Ruth’s famous home run from 1932. It was a wallop! What was eye catching was the equipment. Everything is so much more modern and it just seems weird to look at those old impossibly baggy uniforms. Even the bodies of the players look weirdly out of shape. But they got it done.

Like any human endeavor, sports evolve over time. Science and technology fuel these changes, providing better gear made with superior materials, better information about nutrition and training, and coaching techniques.

Athletes really are getting faster, better, stronger, but not necassarily smarter. Things like cell phones or the Internet has transformed the way we live our lives. Sports are a vehicle for many people, there is a very wide audience, and so when you use this technology in sports, then you see the way sports has really changed. The basics remain close to the same, but the overall scheme of things have drastically changed.

While I have been spending time watching old recordings, which was all we had back 30 years ago. The idea now is to actually record from a first-person perspective what it is like to be a world-class, professional athlete on the field, and then experience that through either seeing it on TV or other media, and you learn and train from that. And then you think how we see that technology changing the landscape of football, and other sports in the future?

I think we’re at that point right now where people realize that without the Internet and cell-phones you are at a great disadvantage in the sports world. What is an advance in science or technology you think will change the landscape of sports in the coming years?

I would have to say some of the motion-capture techniques that are out there. Right now we’re able to tell exactly how the athlete is moving in real time. It’s going to really enhance a lot of athletes’ ability to perform. I think that instant feedback is the best coaching tool in modern history. Being able to tell an athlete immediately what changes they need to take will change all sports forever at the major college and professional levels.

Tecnology has really enhanced the ability of not only coaches but parents to tell whether their athletes or children will be successful. One thing I watched on a video the other night concerning training was the use of pitching machines. As It turned out, pitching machines are completely wasting time, because they don’t teach you the perceptual cues of a pitcher’s body that let you anticipate a pitch. This is why softball pitchers can always strike out major-league baseball hitters. That is also why the best pitching tool available is often from dad throwing to child.

So, as we are still waiting for the 2020 sports seasons to fire back up lets put all the new technology and science stuff to the side for a moment and talk about just having plain old fun again. Lets think about a giving a kid the chance to play on the soccer club, or volleyball team. Lets think about safely getting our younger youth back on the little league fields and some of the adults who might want to join the company or community softball and basketball leagues.

It’s good to give your kids all the best equipment and teach them through advanced technologies. Maybe they will benefit from playing all year round in club leagues. But, perhaps the best thing that could happen would be joining together with likeminded youth in the same community and training under one coach who will put their interest in them and not the money they’re making from a business.

Going through some old books here in the office this past week I was surprised to find no mention of traveling teams, or cheerleaders who paid to learn how to cheer and tumble. What I did find was pictures and articles of past athletes, band members and cheering teams who competed year round for their high schools, and as a result turned up as All-State first team, All-Conference, while winning many other awards individually and as teams. Great records and accomplishments have been recorded and are in the books.

Many of them are now parents and grandparents. They knew how to play the game, probably as well as anyone teaching your kids today. It might be wiser to turn from the new technologies and listen to some sound instruction from the real pros. Lets just hope and pray our youth can soon get back on the fields of play.

eparsons@tylerstarnews.com