May 01, 2006

Nike's lightweight boots contributing to metatarsal injuries?: Rooney helped design and launch Nike's new Nike Air Zoom Total 90 Supremacy. Then broke his metatarsal (again) after a bad landing following a seemingly innocuous challenge on Saturday. Criticisms of new shoes for removing padding in order to reduce weight, resulting in increased occurrence of metatarsal injuries (list included in article).

posted by worldcup2002 to soccer at 07:53 AM - 10 comments

Doesn't it seem a bit Mickey Mouse to be trialing new equipment in a must-win game for a club team that is arguably the world's most famous, and weeks in advance of the World Cup? Maybe it was purely coincidence and had nothing to do with the visionary extreme radical revolutionary new Nike boot. But championships and World Cups are supposed to be about preparation. This smells like Bode trialing new skiis at the Olympics. Brain fart! Surely Rooney should have been trialing that boot much earlier. And if Nike was scared that they didn't want to roll out the new rad boot design until their rigid marketing schedule made them hold off and launch the promotion at the last weekend in April, then they should have made him dummy boots -- y'know, the new version packaged to look exactly like his old ones that he could have played on for as full or half season. A bit of shoe polish and no-one would have told the difference. Seems to me none of these guys have thought this thing through. Rooney probably trialed a couple versions in his light running and practice drills, but not against real competition. The FA must be dreading how their game and the preparation of their team has been interfered -- and perhaps derailed -- by stupid corporate interests.

posted by the red terror at 08:48 AM on May 01

I don't think the argument is about that particular boot that Rooney was wearing, but more about boot design in general. Most footballers nowadays wear very flimsy boots that offer almost no protection to the foot at all, whereas in the old days boots were more like... erm, boots. Nowadays they're pretty much plimsolls. From casual observation, it does seem to me that foot injuries are becoming more common. In the past, the dreaded injuries were always leg or shin injuries, but now almost everyone in the England first XI has broken one or other metatarsals.

posted by afx237vi at 10:22 AM on May 01

Yes, to be fair to Nike, it's the overall lighterweight shoes (regardless of maker) with reduced padding (and thus protection) that we're concerned with here. There was also some discussion about studs vs blades, too, but I think that's less of an issue than the padding if we're talking about metatarsals. (Rooney was wearing studs when he broke his metatarsal again.) It would be interesting to augment the list of injured players in the article with info about the boots they were wearing at the time of the injury.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:24 PM on May 01

But... again ... Why do you wait so late in the day to test a new design? The guy was playing in a game that his team HAD TO WIN. And his national team is starting their World Cup in a month. That is not the time to be tinkering with testing new boot technology. It's like knuckleballer Tom Candiotti entering the 1991 ALCS and deciding he'd rather experiment with his new curveball than throw the knuckleball pitches that were his career bread & butter and what his catcher was calling. It's braindead preparation.

posted by the red terror at 01:32 PM on May 01

No argument from me, red terror. Should be wrapping players in cotton wool right about now until the World Cup starts. But Rooney probably had it in his contract (w/ Nike) and Man U or Ferguson really didn't have any say over that - the article mentioned Ferguson banning blades after Keano broke a metatarsal while wearing them, but Rooney was wearing studs, so what do you do? But yes, the trial of the boots in real conditions was clearly ill-timed.

posted by worldcup2002 at 04:06 PM on May 01

The article is ambiguous about whether it was Keane or Crouch who was wearing blades. I have to agree that the wearing of a new boot just weeks before the World Cup is madness - reminds me of Phil Mickelson's decision to switch club sponsor before the 2004 Ryder Cup - that was a money driven piece of madness too. Perhaps the most alarming thing for any England fan came at the end of the article. None of the listed players, apart from Beckham, returned before ten weeks. Anyone who saw Beckham play in the World Cup in 2002 will know that he was below par and risking further injury from playing. Sir Alex Ferguson is quite pissed off about the pressure being put on Rooney, Terry Butcher doesn't reckon Sven should pick him, but then, Terry's been shooting his mouth off about all sorts today. I had surgery to remove some torn cartilage in my knee six weeks ago today. The surgeon reckoned I could be running lightly after two to three weeks and back to full fitness by now. I was encouraged. I worked hard. In reality, I still needed a stick to walk after two weeks and have only started (very) light running in the last few days. I expect the surgeon knew that would be the case. My point (there is one, and I'm getting to it) is that when the doctor predicts a six week recovery period, he/she does so to encourage the patient. If they'd told me eight weeks, it would have taken me ten. If they'd told me ten, it would have taken me twelve. The doctors have told the UK he'll be ready in six weeks, but he will not. I just hope Sven realises that.

posted by JJ at 07:23 PM on May 01

Yeah, the first time Rooney broke the same metatarsal, they told him 8, but it took him 14. And this guy is a young, strong, driven whippersnapper. This time, they've told him 6, and, at this rate, it'll be 12.

posted by worldcup2002 at 09:16 AM on May 02

Thought I would dredge up a past life to maybe explain the whole Nike/Rooney/timing thing. We all know it's Nike's business to sell sports equipment and we also know they've been heavy on athlete sponsorship relationships from their inception. As with any relationship, there has to be a certain amount of trust involved or the affiliation can be short-lived and even acrimonious. Rooney trusted Nike to make a good product and certainly not one that would expose him to injury (which is still a theory). There is no way he or his advisors would think that a successful (some would even say respected) company would produce a product, have it endorsed by one of the highest profile athletes in the world and expect the product itself to be complicit in an injury. Rooney trusted Nike to provide a shoe that would at the very least protect him and at the most would improve his performance. Regarding the timing of all this, Nike did exactly what other companies do in rolling out a new product 4 to 8 weeks before a huge event, in this case the world's biggest sporting event. The marketing sluts are out to generate a buzz and that's what early roll-outs accomplish (we're talking about it, aren't we?). Our friend Mr. Blatter estimates there will be over 30 billion viewers throughout the tournament and Nike, Adidas and no telling how many other companies, see this as the perfect opportunity to show their stuff to the masses. I think this also explains why Nike chose the Chelsea game for Rooney to break out the new shoes. There was probably not a game in world football this past weekend that drew more viewers than Chelsea-United and Nike saw this as the perfect opportunity to introduce the new boot and generate sales. They're sales whores; that's what they and every company in the world do, they sell stuff. If it turns out that this boot really was to blame in not protecting Rooney's foot, Nike have a huge problem on their hands. There doesn't seem to be enough data on the padding issue at the moment to back up the claim. I'll take a wait-and-see stance to see just how responsible Nike is in all this. Just my two cents. And a couple more thrown in for good measure. JJ, glad to hear things are coming along for you now and I think you're right; no way Rooney plays in this World Cup.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 10:42 AM on May 02

Here's an interesting opinion from Craig Johnston that the boots are to blame but it has nothing to do with the padding.

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 12:14 PM on May 02

Thanks for that, Texan - a good link in itself, but also reminded me to go and see who won the Liverpool vs. Everton '86 Cup Final charity replay on Monday. Another interesting article this morning in the Times about what England should do without Rooney (assuming that Sven has the sense to realise that he is 'without Rooney').

posted by JJ at 04:53 AM on May 03

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