Saturday, October 27, 2007

High Altitude and Sports

Many baseball fans are excited with the World Series going to Denver. The reason for their joy is the "Coors Field Effect" which is the reason why baseballs travel farther in higher altitudes. The reason for this phenomenon is simple: the air is thiner. Air molecules are farther apart and therefore a baseball has less resistance as it flies.

The thiner air poses some medical threats to athletes, though. Each breath takes in less oxygen. Less oxygen in the lungs and blood stream can lead to mountain sickness. Training and play can be modified; however, to reduce negative effects. It can take up to eight days to adapt to the higher altitude. That's a huge plus to the Rockies and bane to the sea level Red Sox.

Update: FIFA banned international soccer matches in high altitude cities because of the impact on players. Some countries such as Bolivia are quite upset at this.

5 comments:

Eric said...

I'm sorry, but Denver just isn't that high. If the game were being played above 10,000 feet, I could understand some hand-wringing. Otherwise, if players can't handle the altitude after spending a day in Colorado, they're fat and out of shape.

Catholicgauze said...

Eric,
Maybe I over stated the impact of elevation but even Denver can impact a sea-level player. During 2005 AAG conference in Denver I expierenced problems during my morning runs for the first two days. It just takes one player to slow down for one important play to change a game. Thanks for the comment though

Adrian said...

Ecuador was especially upset, as they had built a brand-new stadium specifically to take advantage of the altitude. Also, the cutoff was right above Mexico City's Azteca Stadium. I wonder how much lobbying went into that last couple hundred meters.

cokaygne said...

You mean FIFA, right? If watching grown men in shorts kicking a ball up and down the field for 90 minutes to end in a scoreless tie is not enough of a joke, having the sport governed by the same bureaucrats that bring us the Olympics and the UN seals the deal - soccer sucks. Time for the Andean countries to take up baseball.

Catholicgauze said...

Cokaygne,
Thanks. Error fixed. It would be neat to see baseball 10,000 feet up.