Many players in soccer's World Cup are crying foul over the new ball being used for the games in South Africa.
The so-called "Jabulani" balls manufactured by Adidas have been called "weird," a "disaster, "difficult to control," and "appalling."
The hi-tech ball, was described by the London Telegraph as having "eight thermally-bonded, three dimensional panels which are spherically-moulded from fromethylene-vinyl acetat."
According to Adidas, it's the most advanced ball ever and will fly straight and true. Many players, on the other hand, say they don't like the way it flies and that it can be unpredictable.
One could argue that the players need to stop whining, and that everyone is playing with the same ball and that evens the playing field. How different can one ball be from the next anyhow?
But let's look at it a different way.
When Roy Halladay pitches, what does he throw? He throws a Rawlings baseball. Leather. With red stiches. Rubbed down with river mud. It's the same every time, and has been as long as anyone can remember.
(Yes, I know, some people will say that the ball was somehow "juiced" during the 1990s, but there was no significant change in design or materials from Rawlings.)
When Adam Vinatieri kicks a field goal, what is he kicking? It's a Wilson football, made in Ohio in the same way it's been made for decades.
The NHL puck has been the same since the 1990-91 season.
Basketballs? Well, Spalding tried to change it by introducing a synthetic material, but the players revolted and now it's back to the original leather.
For reasons most likely tied to sales and profits, Adidas has felt the need to introduce a new ball for every World Cup. And every year there are complaints. While it's true that those negative comments die down once play begins, one can sympathize with a player who is forced to quickly grow accustomed to the feel and flight of a new ball as he enters the highest-pressure matches of his career.
Growing up, I always thought a soccer ball was supposed to look like this:
No more. Now, the design is whatever Adidas wants it to be, and the materials in the ball change from year to year.
Soccer is the most popular game in the world. The object of the game, elegant in its simplicity, is to kick a ball through a goal. And yet, very few people on earth can accurately say what that ball looks like or what it's made out of.
Adidas: stop messing with the ball. Manufacture one that the players can be on board with, and stick with it.