Monday, February 02, 2009

Strength versus Delicacy?

Watching the Superbowl on the weekend, one of my brothers and I were reflecting on how many sports at the highest levels no longer resemble the sports of our childhood; largely, we agreed, this is the result of drawing from a larger pool of potential athletes, some technology, likely some coaching, and a much greater focus on fitness and skills.
This article
in Macleans looks at curling. I think most of the factors above explain what I see as the major changes in the quality at least of men's curling. The article's analysis of whether performance-enhancing drugs might matter seems generally interesting, though I am astonished at this passage, which seem to me simply foolish:

Bulking up may help sweeping, but players have to maintain the “touch” in order to throw—finesse still trumps muscle power, says Martin

Err, umm, what is the contradiction between being stronger and having more touch? It seems to me added strength simply provides more options, and likely more delicacy too. Is there any research or data to suggest otherwise? I find the idea that these are in conflict nonsensical. It seems to me that greater strength in general should provide greater touch.
And of course this is why Doc's question in this post has, at the very top levels, an answer that seems to me utterly obvious. (My answer is "Yes", at the highest levels.)
Watching men's competitive curling is different from watching the women's game at that level - shots you simply expect the men to make become more exciting in the women's game.


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