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Debate: Standard Field Sizes versus Unique?


pianoknight

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Got into a discussion at work about various sports and their standard or non-standard playing surfaces.  Specifically, in North American sports football, basketball and hockey all have identical measurements from one field/court to another.  Soccer and baseball do not.  Yes, I realize there's a difference between leagues (see: NFL vs CFL) but there is not a difference between teams in those leagues.  The field measurements for the Cowboys and Steelers are identical.  Or the Tiger Cats and Bombers.  But they are very much NOT the same for the Yankees and Red Sox.

 

Why is that?  Does it offer more/better home field advantages in the sports where teams get to pick their own field size? 

 

Just interested to hash it out and get some folks' opinions.

 

 

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The Golden Gophers men's hockey team plays on an olympic-sized rink, and have for a while, unlike the rest of the NCAA with NHL-sized rinks. The larger rink really benefits the faster players, so that might be why the gophers have been consistently good for a long time... 

 

I'm not really sure about baseball and why each field is different...

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23 minutes ago, 2001mark said:

I think soccer clubs playing different dimensions in the same league is bush.

 

Soccer has some crazy variations, too.  In baseball you get a few anomalies like Fenway's Green Monster, but generally the field dimensions are within 25 or maybe 50 feet of difference from park to park.

 

FIFA specifies a soccer field to be within 90-120 meters long (about 90 feet of difference) but the WIDTH is nuts.  They allow fields to be 45-90 meters wide, which is about a 150 foot difference.  Or, another way, the maximum sized soccer field is roughly THREE TIMES bigger than the minimum sized field.  

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It's garbage that what is a home run in one park is a fly out in another.  It could impact stats, contracts, wins, and losses. 

 

Fields should be standardized.  While I appreciate the quirks of the older parks, in the newer ones they're just contrived crap.  Older parks should have been grandfathered in, and standardization put in place when the cookie-cutters were being built (and still in place today.)

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1 hour ago, BringBackTheVet said:

It's garbage that what is a home run in one park is a fly out in another.  It could impact stats, contracts, wins, and losses. 

 

Fields should be standardized.  While I appreciate the quirks of the older parks, in the newer ones they're just contrived crap.  Older parks should have been grandfathered in, and standardization put in place when the cookie-cutters were being built (and still in place today.)

in fairness though, so does weather. Prime Examples being Coors Field and Wrigley Field

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6 hours ago, pianoknight said:

Soccer has some crazy variations, too.  In baseball you get a few anomalies like Fenway's Green Monster, but generally the field dimensions are within 25 or maybe 50 feet of difference from park to park.

 

FIFA specifies a soccer field to be within 90-120 meters long (about 90 feet of difference) but the WIDTH is nuts.  They allow fields to be 45-90 meters wide, which is about a 150 foot difference.  Or, another way, the maximum sized soccer field is roughly THREE TIMES bigger than the minimum sized field.  

 

I don't think you can say a change between the minimum and maximum length of the pitch has a different level of effect on the game as a change from minimum to maximum width of the pitch. Kind of a matter of opinion, but being forced to play wider can have an effect of a similar magnitude on a game as being forced to play more direct.

 

And, they are both pretty wide ranges but this is to accommodate fields all over the world from being excluded from play. The FIFA Laws of the Game are written for La Liga as much as they are written for the Faroese Premier League, or Ecuadorian U15s, or beer-leaguers Joe Schmo FC that play at the neighborhood pitch. That rulebook is quite unique in that regard, as far as I know.

 

Additionally, a lot of the stadiums in European top flights would fall into the UEFA categorization, which has a much more stringent range for length and width (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UEFA_stadium_categories).

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Baseball has a better rationale in that it happened somewhat organically; at least at first.  Ballparks were being squeezed into whatever city block, vacant lot, or school yard could be found.  Big League parks as well.  Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are still from that era, as were many parks in my memory (Tiger Stadium, Comiskey, etc.).  At no point was baseball ever even attempting to standardize it's outfield walls.  Of course, it is true that every park outside of Wrigley and Fenway probably could have identical dimensions and the newer unique dimensions (like the odd shapes of the OF wall outlines in places like Philly; and don't even get me started on Houston) are pretty much contrived at this point. But MLB sort of fell into not having standards.  And if we want everything to be standard, then we are looking at dimensions, shape/size of foul territory, height of walls all around theplaying area.  That would put ballparks in the position of not being able to be unique, which would cut somewhat into the allure of baseball.

 

Other sports include golf and auto racing...week-to-week those are far different.  Golf would obviously be impossible to stardardize.

 

It's hard to imagine basketball and football not being standard and I certainly would not advocate it; it's apples-and-oranges with baseball. I suppose though, a slightly wider or longer basketball court would not totally ruin the game so long as the free throw line, lane, and three point line were standard (much like the baseball diamond). 

 

The NHL has some history (http://www.frozenfaceoff.net/2015/01/nhl-history-of-rinks.html).  It survied, though like with football and basketball, standardization makes some sense.

 

15 hours ago, chcarlson23 said:

The Golden Gophers men's hockey team plays on an olympic-sized rink, and have for a while, unlike the rest of the NCAA with NHL-sized rinks. The larger rink really benefits the faster players, so that might be why the gophers have been consistently good for a long time...

In the 1980s, the WCHA Final Four (I think that's what it was; but maybe it was a Final Five then too) was often held at the old St. Paul Civic Center.  Apparently the rink was very small and the Gophers tended to struggle there.  Those old enough may remember the clear boards on the place that held so many of the games Minnesotans really cared about: high school hockey games.

 

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Yeah, overly contrived parks like Minute Maid shouldn't be enabled.  What's sadder is giant parks like Safeco, Citi, & Comerica is how they've mostly all moved their fences in.  I can't watch a Mets home game without thinking how bastardized their new OF & seating is.  That's a planning issue though, computers can teach an architect only so much yes?  At least with new Yankee Stadium, they didn't change after the first season of HR ball- they just accepted it.

As for Coors, if their field wasn't so spacious, there'd only ever be HR ball... & no pitcher would ever sign there.

 

I could see the NHL recommend slightly larger rinks 10-20yrs from now when probable new replacement buildings come on board.  Not Olympic sized, yet somewhere in between.

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4 hours ago, OnWis97 said:

Baseball has a better rationale in that it happened somewhat organically; at least at first.  Ballparks were being squeezed into whatever city block, vacant lot, or school yard could be found.  Big League parks as well.  Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are still from that era, as were many parks in my memory (Tiger Stadium, Comiskey, etc.).  At no point was baseball ever even attempting to standardize it's outfield walls.  Of course, it is true that every park outside of Wrigley and Fenway probably could have identical dimensions and the newer unique dimensions (like the odd shapes of the OF wall outlines in places like Philly; and don't even get me started on Houston) are pretty much contrived at this point. But MLB sort of fell into not having standards.  And if we want every thing to be standard, then we are looking at dimensions, shape/size of foul territory, height of walls all around playing area.  That would put ballparks in the position of not being able to be unique, which would cut somewhat into the allure of baseball.

 

Other sports include golf and auto racing...week-to-week those are far different.  Golf would obviously be impossible to stardardize.

 

It's hard to imagine basketball and football not being standard and I certainly would not advocate it; it's apples-and-oranges with baseball. I suppose though, a slightly wider or longer basketball court would not totally ruin the game so long as the free throw line, lane, and three point line were standard (much like the baseball diamond). 

 

The NHL has some history (http://www.frozenfaceoff.net/2015/01/nhl-history-of-rinks.html).  It survied, though like with football and basketball, standardization makes some sense.

 

In the 1980s, the WCHA Final Four (I think that's what it was; but maybe it was a Final Five then too) was often held at the old St. Paul Civic Center.  Apparently the rink was very small and the Gophers tended to struggle there.  Those old enough may remember the clear boards on the place that held so many of the games Minnesotans really cared about: high school hockey games.

 

There's about 10 other NCAA teams that use an Olympic sized sheet. Alaska Anchorage, St. Cloud St, Colorado College and Mankato I believe. Few examples that I know of. 

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I'll say standardization is the way to go. I really only follow hockey and soccer and I don't care for the idea of a team being able to take advantage of a smaller/larger playing area when constructing their roster. The dimensions should be in the rule book and adhered to. 

 

As as a very casual baseball observer, I don't mind a little variety here. Makes a boring game just a little bit more interesting, to put it honestly. Just no ridiculous dimensions or catwalks or hills in the outfield please. 

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10 hours ago, OnWis97 said:

Baseball has a better rationale in that it happened somewhat organically; at least at first.  Ballparks were being squeezed into whatever city block, vacant lot, or school yard could be found.  Big League parks as well.  Fenway Park and Wrigley Field are still from that era, as were many parks in my memory (Tiger Stadium, Comiskey, etc.).  At no point was baseball ever even attempting to standardize it's outfield walls.  Of course, it is true that every park outside of Wrigley and Fenway probably could have identical dimensions and the newer unique dimensions (like the odd shapes of the OF wall outlines in places like Philly; and don't even get me started on Houston) are pretty much contrived at this point. But MLB sort of fell into not having standards.  And if we want everything to be standard, then we are looking at dimensions, shape/size of foul territory, height of walls all around theplaying area.  That would put ballparks in the position of not being able to be unique, which would cut somewhat into the allure of baseball.

 

Other sports include golf and auto racing...week-to-week those are far different.  Golf would obviously be impossible to stardardize.

 

It's hard to imagine basketball and football not being standard and I certainly would not advocate it; it's apples-and-oranges with baseball. I suppose though, a slightly wider or longer basketball court would not totally ruin the game so long as the free throw line, lane, and three point line were standard (much like the baseball diamond). 

 

The NHL has some history (http://www.frozenfaceoff.net/2015/01/nhl-history-of-rinks.html).  It survied, though like with football and basketball, standardization makes some sense.

 

In the 1980s, the WCHA Final Four (I think that's what it was; but maybe it was a Final Five then too) was often held at the old St. Paul Civic Center.  Apparently the rink was very small and the Gophers tended to struggle there.  Those old enough may remember the clear boards on the place that held so many of the games Minnesotans really cared about: high school hockey games.

 

 

I feel like golf and racing are a bit exempted from the conversation, though, as you EXPECT them to be different.  Golf would be even less fun than it is already if every hole was the same.  Plus, there's not exactly a home field advantage in either sport.  Some drivers prefer certain tracks, but it's not like Tiger Woods is "hosting" Phil Mickleson at the Tiger Woods Stadium.  But the Redskins DO host the Eagles.  

 

 

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Australian rules football is another sport that does not have standard sized playing surfaces. The "ideal" measurement for an Australian Rules oval is 165 metres in length and 135 metres in width, but arenas can be in a range between 135-185 metres in length and 110-155 metres in width. Here is a summary of the dimensions of the ovals used in the AFL:

http://www.freebookiebets.com.au/afl_football_grounds.htm

 

It would be impossible to standardise the size of AFL grounds, as this would involve expensive and time-consuming modifications to the grandstands if some ovals had to be lengthened or widened.

I like the fact that AFL ovals are all unique - teams have to adapt their style of play to the oval that they are playing on.

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On 7/22/2016 at 8:18 PM, Gothamite said:

But golfers have courses they're more familiar with, that they've played more often, and that can be an advantage over a competitor seeing the course for the first time.  

 

It's a great comparison. 

 

Not wrong, but I think it would be topographically impossible. Golf courses would be a gargantuan task to standardize. For racing, not possible, at least for road courses. Feel like ovals could be standardized... but why make NASCAR more boring than it actually is? ;) I think individual versatility is also a really positive attribute in those sports, and you would be doing a disservice to athletes who are (we've only discussed team sports so far).

 

-------

 

Not an exact analogy, but interesting to think about: should tennis only be played on one surface? That's really the argument here (sports should only be played in one way across the league/world) but I don't think that could ever work.

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Yeah, I don't think tennis should be played only on one surface.   Nor do I think racetracks or golf courses should be standardized. 

 

Nor do I think that soccer pitches or baseball diamonds should all be the same size and shape.  

 

Gridiron football, okay, I get that. It's the only sport where progress is measured in actual measurements, and so they all have to be 100 yards long.  But I wouldn't mind giving teams a 10- or 20-yard discretionary range in the width of the field to suit their game. 

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I shouldn't have assumed ;).

 

I agree with you, @2001mark, that the NHL has to some point move to a bigger ice surface. The transition will be interesting! Going to older buildings and being forced to play small... would add a whole new dimension to the league.

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On 7/21/2016 at 10:55 PM, OnWis97 said:

I suppose though, a slightly wider or longer basketball court would not totally ruin the game so long as the free throw line, lane, and three point line were standard (much like the baseball diamond). 

Actually this could be fun to watch. Teams with longer courts may opt to press more to draw more 10-sec calls (8-sec NBA). Spread offenses would operate better on some wider courts compared to narrow ones.

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