[http://active.typepad.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/05/15/woodbat.jpg]Toby Guillette is Active.com's Endurance Online Community Specialist. He is an outdoor-adventure-sports aficionado specializing in ultra-running.
In response to Trish's post, the New York City Council banned metal bats in high school baseball
because of a belief that such bats increase the risk of injury. The
decision to change the rules for one geographical location has
potential repercussions that may provide an unfair advantage to
athletes elsewhere who aren���t forced to use wooden bats. It is paramount that consistency is restored throughout the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSH) in order to preserve the integrity of the sport.
In the endurance-sports world, competitors abide by the many rules and regulations set forth and enforced by larger governing bodies. The International Cycling Union (UCI), which sets industry standards governing the rules for competitive cycling,
enforces a rule relevant to the metal-versus-wooden bat debate. The UCI
does not have rules for which materials may be used for bicycles
because there is minimum mass limit of no less than 6.8 kg (~15 lbs).
With a baseline rule established for weight, a rider with greater
financial resources will not have a significant advantage over a rider
with inferior sponsorship. Thus the focus shifts to the individual
rider���s level of fitness, skill and team strategy.
In baseball, the NFSH has an equivalent role to the UCI. And similar
to bikes, bats have design restrictions too. In high school baseball in
the United States, the bat is not allowed to be more than 2 5/8
inches in diameter and 42 inches in length. The difference between
inches of length and ounces of weight must be no greater than 3. An
example of this is that a 34-inch bat must weigh at least 31 ounces.
With these restrictions in place, there is predictability in
performance allowing athletes to showcase their skills on a level
playing field. Thus, the high school athlete that has what it takes
will stand out to scouts and be recruited to play at the
college level. It has already been determined, by the recent court
ruling, that metal and composite bats produce faster, harder and longer
hits than wooden bats. If New York or only a few places ban metal bats,
then these players will be at a disadvantage. The resulting discrepancy
in performance across the nation will skew statistics and the integrity
of the sport will be diminished. There must be a uniform ruling -- if
this is going to happen in New York, it must also hold true for all of
high school baseball.