Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, January 04, 2021

When you think of samurais, you think of samurai swords.

But the ancient Japanese warrior class liked using bow and arrow as well, especially while on horseback. Yabusame is the time-honored tradition of equestrian archery, akin to polo in England or rodeo in America, and the competition exists in present-day Japan:

The targets, held about seven feet aloft on small poles or scaffoldings, are roughly the size of a mounted opponent’s chest. There are three along the runway, which is only 165 yards long, giving the archer just enough time to raise his bow, load and shoot — three times — all the while spurring on his horse.

When the dull, turnip-shaped tip of an arrow strikes just right, the board explodes in a blur of splinters. But as often as not, the arrows miss, sailing past the targets and thudding into the canvas behind them…

Archers don’t actually sit. They squat, using special stirrups and very light saddles.

Something I’ll have to catch, should I ever visit the beaches of southern Japan…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/04/2021 04:55:09 PM
Category: History, Other Sports
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big ice
This morning, I caught the replay of last night’s MSG Network “Hockey Night Live”, and heard an intriguing idea from — of all people — former Rangers great Ron Duguay:

In future Winter Classics, why not take advantage of the extra space inside the baseball/football stadium bowls and “spread out”, i.e. increase the size of the ice surface, beyond the National Hockey League regulation dimensions of 200 feet long by 85 feet wide?

Duguay’s primary rationale was that bigger ice provided better viewing opportunities for the mega-sized crowds, particularly those in the higher upper decks. He didn’t specify just how much bigger the sheet should be; certainly not supersized enough to fill a football field or baseball diamond, but I’d guess something considerably larger than the Olympic/international standard of 200′ by 100′. He didn’t cite any sort of improved player/game experience from a bigger playing area, which is a switch from recent history, when regular carping about giving players more room to move and make plays was commonplace.

Duguay’s “HNL” co-hosts shot down the idea pretty quickly. Their main counter-argument was that if the ice surface wasn’t NHL regulation, then the Winter Classic would cease to be a regulation NHL game, thus rendering it meaningless.

I’m not necessarily in favor of making this change. That said…

As we all know, regulations are made to be adjusted. My problem with the counter-argument is that, of course, the NHL has, in the past, functioned in buildings that housed non-regulation rinks. The Bruins (old Boston Garden), Blackhawks (Chicago Stadium), and Sabres (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) all played on “short rinks” for decades, with the only justification being that the franchises didn’t want to lose seating capacity just to get up to regulation ice. So I don’t see any particular contradiction in messing with the ice size for an annual Winter Classic showcase game.

I can’t imagine re-jiggered ice being a popular move with the teams, particularly for the players who’d have to adjust their playing styles for a game that counts in the standings. And if the WC is meant to showcase NHL hockey, then you can argue that a different ice surface would showcase a different brand of hockey altogether.

Still, it’s outside-the-box thinking, aimed at enhancing the crowd-viewing experience. So it’s worthy of consideration, at least — if not actual execution.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/04/2021 04:12:45 PM
Category: Hockey
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