Sports Science

There's science going on here, no test tubes or lab coats necessary. USA Today Sports / Reuters

By Chad Orzel, Associate Professor of Physics at Union College.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some other players call him a loudmouth and a showboater. Fans of other teams call him a lot of things that shouldn’t see print (even on the Internet). One thing you’re not likely to hear anyone on ESPN call Sherman, though, is “scientist.”

The Patriots ran away with the AFC Championship. What did deflated footballs have to do with it? USA Today Sports / Reuters

By Chad Orzel, Union College

Beet juice is a fad in sports optimization because it is
rich in nitrates, but does it work? 

It has some value, though it does not enhance muscle blood flow or vascular dilation during exercise, as commonly claimed. It does "de-stiffen" blood vessels under resting conditions, potentially easing the workload of the heart. 

Nightwatchman Nathan Lyon bowled by Mohammed Sharmi last week. AAP/ David Mariuz

By Tim Trudgian, Australian National University

Imagine you are captain of the national cricket team. With 20 minutes left in day one of a test match, your top-order batsman is dismissed. Do you employ a nightwatchman? That is, do you send in a tail-end batsman to see out the bowling until the end of the day’s play and protect your top-order?

Well, a little bit of math can show you that you shouldn't.

Are umpires biased? There has been sociological woo produced trying to prove they are racist in baseball but a paper has found that if a cricket team has home umpires, some bias does get introduced, at least in Test cricket, the longest form of the sport .

Epigenetics has gotten new life 200 years after it was first postulated - it is temporary biochemical changes in the genome, caused by various forms of environmental impact that can be permanent and even passed down to future generations, basically an update on Jean Baptiste Lamarck's inheritance of acquired characteristics. 

One type of epigenetic change is methylation, where a methyl group is added to or removed from a base in the DNA molecule without affecting the original DNA sequence. Epigenetic researchers liken it to computers: If genes are considered the hardware of cells, then epigenetics can be seen as their software. 

A small study

Retired baseball stars Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro each have Hall of Fame-worthy numbers, more than 500 home runs.

CrossFitters can be found flipping tires or hitting them with a sledgehammer, climbing ropes, and tossing medicine balls. Shutterstock

By Sarah Hentges, University of Maine at Augusta

Though the World Series is over, baseball never really ends in the modern era. There are MVP announcements, free agency and then the winter meetings. Before we know it, it will be February and pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training in Florida and Arizona.

In the NFL, teams share revenue from national television contracts and to sell local tickets, if a team has not sold at least to a specific threshold, the game is blacked out locally. If enough people are attending, the game is shown to fans in the region

That appeals to 'hometown' fans. One satellite network shows all games to its package subscribers but otherwise fans are only going to see their local team. If they don't have one, they see something nearby. It is a rule and there is no choice.

In the modern mobile population, that may not be a wise strategy. Fans no longer live within an hour of where they grew up and a new paper finds that choosing to broadcast the local team isn't always the smartest ratings decision. Writing in