Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hands On With Jabulani: A Not Quite Field Test
With The World Cup Match Ball

I was at my favorite sports store the other day, and lo and behold they had the now infamous Jabulani match ball.

Remember if you see a Jabulani- there are a few different iterations, but at the end of the day there's basically 2 versions: the official match ball- the one causing all the ruckus- and a traditional stitched ball that is simply painted with the Jabulani design. As the official match balls retail for $125 each, the purpose of the painted traditional balls is simple- sell as many 'Jabulani' balls across the world to as many people as possible. After all, that is what this or any new Adidas ball is about: cash, and making lots of it by selling millions of new balls when the previous ball was working just fine.

Here is a photo I took of the two balls. The official match Jabulani is on the right, and a 'regular' ball painted to look like Jabulani is on the left.

It's pretty striking at first glance that the one on the left looks like a soccer ball but the one on the right looks like a golf ball, or something you would expect to see in aisle 7 at Toys R Us. No seams, very shiny plastic, and several different grains & textures, as well as the yellow band which up close and personal looks like it is made out of the same material used in the LIVESTRONG bracelets.

Here's a video I shot of the ball, and towards the end I showed the 'regular' ball for a frame of reference.

It's obvious when you see Jabulani up close and hold it in your hand that this is a radically difference definition of what a soccer ball is. I'd love to test it out with my friends or my soccer team, but my desire to try it out myself, when converted to a monetary value, falls well short of the $125 sticker price.

Anyhow, just wanted to share with y'all how radically different it is and what it looks like up close & personal.

It will be interesting to see, after the World Cup, what leagues do or do not adopt the ball, and also to see the actions of the leagues and team currently using it. I wouldn't be surprised if leagues abandon the ball as soon as they are able do contractually.


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