Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton and wonder about the modern decathlon. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, our lives are suddenly much less productive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our daily edition of "know your Olympic sport," by fielding some softballs.
With its Olympic license being revoked after these games, let's pay tribute to Jennie Finch by profiling a pitching machine, a method to improve your eyesight and little bit more about softball's secret weapon.
Seeing is Succeeding
Hitting a baseball isn't the toughest thing in sports. But hitting a softball might be. The reaction time to hit a softball is actually less than hitting a baseball (more on that below). When you're counting in milliseconds, 20-20 vision isn't enough.
Read a line of random letters on the chart at your doctor's and you'll know your eyesight. Rip off the 20-20 line and you'll likely get a pat on the back and a reminder to check back next year. But, who says 20-20 is good enough? According to Tanya Porter, who works at Athletic Republic and serves as the Technical Director for Performance Technology for USA Softball, most professional baseball players have 20-12 vision. For those who don't have it naturally, they buy it. Porter says that many athletes will get corrective lenses to bring their acuity to 20-15 or 20-12. So why are us mere mortals stuck at 20-20?
"It takes the doctors longer to dial in with the left lens, and then the right lens, asking you which is better," said Porter. "It can take them twenty extra minutes. When they feel that 20-20 is satisfactory enough for every day living, they're not going to spend more time on it."