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Mysterious Sports

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D'kian
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I am mystified by some sports. I just can't discern what the objective is.

Take soccer, for instance. The alleged objective is to put the round ball inside the goal. But that happens so seldom it can't possibly be so. Most often the players just pass the ball around, take it away, give it back, etc. But no one keeps score on that. Also more often a player kicks the ball in the general direction of the goal, and misses it by a mile. This greatly excites the fans, but again no one keeps score on that. Next many players give theatrical performances when someone dares touch them, or when they trip or slide. these are fine, if over-acted, performances, which usually end only after the man in black takes out a colorful card. But again no one keeps score on them, nor any players nominated for acting awards (not even in all-sports networks). So I'm at a loss as to what the real objective is in soccer.

Then there's hockey. I'm told the objective is to place a rubber disk inside the goal. I can see how that would work, seeing as the goalie covers 110% of the goal's area thereby making it a difficult task. But after seeing dozens of hockey games on TV, mostly in the winter Olympics, I've yet to see this rubber disk. I understand purists refer to the disk as "The Puck." I assume then it ranks with the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti as a named creature or object no one has ever seen. Reproductions of The Puck can be found at sporting good stores, however. Experts have sugested hockey was devised to keep men tuned in the winter Olympics, while the figure skaters and skiers take a break.

Baseball has a pretty clear objective: to bore the audience to death. Alas, most teams don't manage to do that. It's been suggested baseball is a hoax perpetrated by beer companies to increase sales, as evidenced by the many beer commercials that run during baseball games. The rationale is that people bored out fo their minds will drink enough beer to pretend they are, in fact, enjoying the non-spectacle taking place in front of them. And naturally they pay for tickets in order to have a nice, sunny place to drink beer in epace (that's why baseball games are suspended when as much as one raindrop is suspected to have hit anywhere within 100 miles of the ballpark).

There's basketball. On first glance it seems to have a clear objective, which would be to get the ridiculously large basketball inside the opposing team's hoop. However, scoring is too frequent and seems too easy. The lead changes hands too often. I am told most games are not decided until late in the final period. Which begs the question: why not just play the late final period? it would be more efficient and several games could be played in one day, say ten games per playing day.

Fianlly there's Formula One racing. No mystery there, or not much of one. Various car manufacturers and their sponsors and car designers compete to see who builds the better car. Drivers compete for the privilege of driving the best car, as the car is the real star of the comeptition and the driver only has to keep from crashing it. The mystery, and it's rather small, is why are the drivers better known than the builders, seeing as it is the latter who really matter?

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There are some interesting aspects of soccer that might suprise you, and are the primary source of its appeal to me.

1) In spite of the fact that there are 11 players on the field, soccer is a unapolegetically individualistic sport. There are almost no set plays, and the coach (at least at the higher levels of the game) is prohibited from dictating individual actions from the bench (a yellow card offense). At any given moment, each player is responsible to determine by their own best judgement what to do to further the shared objective. It is often referred to as the thinking man's game for this reason.

2) The incredibly small rulebook (compared to almost all other sports) is the closest thing to perfect governance as one can get in a sport.

3) What rules there are, are designed so that one cannot use the violation of them to ones advantage. In other words, unlike say basketball, in soccer there is no such thing as a "good foul." If an opposing player breaks away and appears to be about to score a goal, one cannot foul that player to stop him without suffering severe consequences (ejection from the game, team plays the rest of the game short one man). A classic example of a moral and objective law, one that protects the innocent but cannot be taken advantage of by the guilty.

For these (and many lesser) reasons soccer holds a special place in my heart. It may be worth a second look.

Paul

bootlegger of life

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Then there's hockey. I'm told the objective is to place a rubber disk inside the goal. I can see how that would work, seeing as the goalie covers 110% of the goal's area thereby making it a difficult task. But after seeing dozens of hockey games on TV, mostly in the winter Olympics, I've yet to see this rubber disk. I understand purists refer to the disk as "The Puck." I assume then it ranks with the Loch Ness Monster and the Yeti as a named creature or object no one has ever seen. Reproductions of The Puck can be found at sporting good stores, however. Experts have sugested hockey was devised to keep men tuned in the winter Olympics, while the figure skaters and skiers take a break.

You are doing it wrong. The puck is far too small and fast to be seen well on TV. Hockey has to be attended in person at a live event.

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  • 3 weeks later...
There are some interesting aspects of soccer that might suprise you, and are the primary source of its appeal to me.

I don't doubt it. I'm sure I will be very surprised when I find out why so many people like this alleged sport.

1) In spite of the fact that there are 11 players on the field, soccer is a unapolegetically individualistic sport. There are almost no set plays, and the coach (at least at the higher levels of the game) is prohibited from dictating individual actions from the bench (a yellow card offense). At any given moment, each player is responsible to determine by their own best judgement what to do to further the shared objective. It is often referred to as the thinking man's game for this reason.

Fair enough. But as there is no apparent objective to the game, it's really a kind of Red Queen's Race, isn't it? So it's a highly individualistic way of doing what, exactly? We've already disposed of the myth that the objective is to put the ball inside the large goal.

For these (and many lesser) reasons soccer holds a special place in my heart. It may be worth a second look.

The daily paper carries a sports section. Often it's 85% soccer (except when it's more than that). The local networks quit broadcasting afternoon NFL games because they'd rather do more soccer games (apparently the 75% of the year without Football isn't enough). I had to play soccer in physical education class in school almost every time. Menaing that the second look must have taken place, oh, twenty or so years ago.

BTW I neglected to mention boxing. The mystery isn't in the objective, which is to render the other man unconscious by repeated blows to the head, but the fact that such a barbaric practice is regarded as a sport. It's more like a ritual, legalized form of assault. It's not that it's a violent spectacle, but that it isn't more or anything other than violence. And what's with the lack of clothes? A mating display of some sort?

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Fianlly there's Formula One racing. No mystery there, or not much of one. Various car manufacturers and their sponsors and car designers compete to see who builds the better car. Drivers compete for the privilege of driving the best car, as the car is the real star of the comeptition and the driver only has to keep from crashing it. The mystery, and it's rather small, is why are the drivers better known than the builders, seeing as it is the latter who really matter?

Oh, something I know something about...

First, I think it was Hemingway that said, I'll paraphrase:

"There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting, and motor racing. The rest are just games."

Invariably, a builder of a racing car, bike, etc. can develop technical abilities. However, the ability to use the tool at ten tenths is limited to a finite number of individuals. F1, specifically, and even higher levels of motorsports, have the top flight individuals demanding the highest salaries and endorsements for their services. Some are so good that they are able to win on less capable machinery. And a driver/rider can drive a sponsor to spend money. Or a driver/rider can bring the money to a team/manufacturer.

Stick and ball games don't have a large element of danger. Motorsports is a different gig that way. Again, the crew, builder, etc. can't do what the driver can. It's not just experience, but it often becomes a long term conditioning to speed and the individual genetic ability of a person to function at a faster speed reaction wise than normal. That allows those individuals to "sample" time and traction beyond what mere "mortals" can. Mistakes at speed in judging time, distance, and traction, in addition to the best "line" to be taken through a corner, can lead to loss of time, going off track, and/or a crash that takes the machine and driver/rider out of the race momentarily or completely through material destruction of "unobtainium" equipment and physical injury.

You don't break a football. :dough:

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Don't forget the fact that if a driver is also a good technician, he'll know what's wrong with the car just by driving it and be able to help the team improve it immensely.

Michael Schumacher for instance used to have a second/lap advantage on his team-mate, who was also one of the fastest drivers in the world, even though Schumacher was driving the same car, only with settings he was able to perfect specifically for his own driving style.

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Don't forget the fact that if a driver is also a good technician, he'll know what's wrong with the car just by driving it and be able to help the team improve it immensely.

Michael Schumacher for instance used to have a second/lap advantage on his team-mate, who was also one of the fastest drivers in the world, even though Schumacher was driving the same car, only with settings he was able to perfect specifically for his own driving style.

Yes, set up is very important. You're trying to remember a lot of data that's coming at you. And then somehow translate that to something useful to the guys that will make the actual changes. Some of that is science, some is intuition, and some of it is voodoo. Additionally, depending upon style, you can't just necessarily translate a chassis set up from one to another and expect the same results. One might put more throttle down mid corner, one might look to spin the tire a bit to release tension out of the chassis. All of that will make a difference.

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...

BTW I neglected to mention boxing. The mystery isn't in the objective, which is to render the other man unconscious by repeated blows to the head, but the fact that such a barbaric practice is regarded as a sport. It's more like a ritual, legalized form of assault. It's not that it's a violent spectacle, but that it isn't more or anything other than violence. And what's with the lack of clothes? A mating display of some sort?

Boxing is kinda like the individual version of Football.

In Football, you have 11 guys who all must work together, doing their part to move the football down the field. And there are 11 guys on the other team who must do their part in concert to prevent that. Any one mistake by any man can potentially be exploited with disastrous results for the opposing team. (BTW, Basketball can be like this as well, especially College Basketball).

In Boxing (and other martial arts), you have much the same aspects, with just one guy on each "team". Just like you can have quick-strike capabilities in Football (Arizona in the 1st qtr. against the Eagles), you can have similar situations in Boxing (Mike Tyson in his prime). Boxing just has a "mercy" rule.

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Boxing is kinda like the individual version of Football.

Not really. Football can be seen as an emulation of warfare. The goal being to "take" the enemy's end zone, and the defense working to keep the enemy out. Boxing is more like an emulation of a duel, where the objective is to kill the other man (in boxing it would be to "merely" render the man unconscious).

In Boxing (and other martial arts), you have much the same aspects, with just one guy on each "team".

In martial arts there are points scored in an objectively defined way (hit the opponent in a certain spot, pin him to the mat for a number of seconds, etc) Not so in boxing. Nor do other martial arts require blows to the opponent's head.

You could suplant boxing by a "sport" where a neutral party hits two men on the head with a two by four, the winner being the last man to loose consciousness. I agree it would be rather boring, but the effect would be the same.

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Some are so good that they are able to win on less capable machinery. And a driver/rider can drive a sponsor to spend money. Or a driver/rider can bring the money to a team/manufacturer.

Naturally a driver has a different set of skills than the builders. But name one driver who can outrun a better car. There was Damon Hill who won a championship with, I think, Williams, then went to occupy the basement when he switched to a lesser builder.

I attended one F-1 GP in mexico back in 87 or 88. It was the last year turbo-charged engines were allowed. Three teams had such engines: McLaren, Ferrari and Arrows. Arrows consistently ended up near the bottom. But as Mexico is a city over 2,200 meters above sea level, that engine left better teams and better drivers in the dust, though it still couldn't match the Big Two.

So regardless of who was driving then for WIlliams, Lotus or Beneton, their cars were, for that race, not up to par, therefore their drivers lost.

You don't break a football. :lol:

Just goes to show you never played pool football with a Nerf ball :lol:

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Not really. Football can be seen as an emulation of warfare. The goal being to "take" the enemy's end zone, and the defense working to keep the enemy out. Boxing is more like an emulation of a duel, where the objective is to kill the other man (in boxing it would be to "merely" render the man unconscious).

To take your warfare metaphor, one could view Boxing as an individual battle within the greater battle. Kinda the same, but different perspective.

In martial arts there are points scored in an objectively defined way (hit the opponent in a certain spot, pin him to the mat for a number of seconds, etc) Not so in boxing. Nor do other martial arts require blows to the opponent's head.

There are objective criteria in Boxing as well. It is just that they are subjectively interpreted.

FWIW, the effort to remove the subjectivity from Boxing (and other contact sports where "subtlety" is involved) have led to the disgusting mess that is Olympic Boxing, where 3 people on 3 sides of the ring must all see the same punch at the same time to score it. This has effectively caused a disconnect between Olympic success, and success out in the "real world" of Pro Boxing. The jab has become only useful punch in the Olympics, since it is the only punch all judges can easily see. <_<

You could suplant boxing by a "sport" where a neutral party hits two men on the head with a two by four, the winner being the last man to loose consciousness. I agree it would be rather boring, but the effect would be the same.

I'm sure the Jackass fans would dig it. <_<

In any case, just as there are fans of Ballroom Dancing and women's sports (like soccer :pirate: ), there are always going to be those that "get" a sport, and those that don't. I refuse to let this particular expression of individuality keep me from making fun of the fans of sports I don't "get". :thumbsup:

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I had to laugh at myself for watching curling during the last winter games. It was surprisingly fun to watch and looks fun to play. The US Nationals are coming to Denver and I'm wondering if it'd be fun to watch with a beer and some popcorn. :thumbsup:

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In any case, just as there are fans of Ballroom Dancing and women's sports (like soccer <_< ), there are always going to be those that "get" a sport, and those that don't. I refuse to let this particular expression of individuality keep me from making fun of the fans of sports I don't "get". :thumbsup:

<_<

Good one!

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Just goes to show you never played pool football with a Nerf ball :thumbsup:

LOL!

No, we just never were stopped by a Nerf football that was ripped in half. Just allows two games to go on.

And a Nerf football makes an incredible noise going through a snow blower...LOL!

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LOL!

No, we just never were stopped by a Nerf football that was ripped in half. Just allows two games to go on.

No, not in half. But when you're trying to get the ball away from someone, and you're both underwater, one is likely to emerge with a piece of the ball clutched tightly in fingers quickly turning purple.

Come to think of it, I don't think I ever owned a real football. We had plenty of Nerf balls, and vynil footballs we over-inflated (to make them harder). But never a real kosher pigskin with laces and all. the Vynil balls, when sufficiently over-inflated, could burst under a pile up after a fumble.

Usually, though, they were just punted into a neighbor's yard.

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That's when you jump the neighbor's fence and get a nail in your foot due to the ongoing pool construction in their backyard. :thumbsup:

Houses in Mexico City's suburbs have high brick walls surrounding the back yard (ours was extended with a chain-link fence on top, to keep wayward footballs from straying; it dind't work very well). The walls of the house bump against the neighbor's house. The front yard, if there is one, either has a tall decorative metal fence or another wall.

Therefore there was an argument about whose turn it was to go beg for the ball back. Depending on which direction it headed, the task could involve walking clear around the block to retrieve it.

Oh, and pools are not unheard of, but very, very rare.

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Take soccer, for instance. The alleged objective is to put the round ball inside the goal. But that happens so seldom it can't possibly be so.

The objective of soccer is to have scored at least one goal more than the opposing team at the end of the game. This happens quite often but not too often and anything the players do during the game can be easily explained as means towards this objective. In the german soccer league teams are awarded points for scored goals which are used for ranking and the objective there is to have the highest possible rank at the end of the season.

But take marathon. The objective cannot be to reach the goal because that would be much easier by car. The objective can also not be to run a given distance because depending on the starting position and the radius in which they take street corners each participant runs a different distance. So what is the objective there?

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The objective of soccer is to have scored at least one goal more than the opposing team at the end of the game. This happens quite often but not too often and anything the players do during the game can be easily explained as means towards this objective.

Sorry, I don't buy it. For one thing, as you admit, this so-called scoring happens way too seldom. But also the goal area is huge, the gaol keeper is tiny in comparison, therefore you'd expect plenty of "scores." So if that were the objective, it would get acomplished more often.

Besides, I don't see how pretending to ahve been mortally wounded in the belly (as a result of contact to the side, mind you) tens of meters away from the goal could possibly be related to placing the round ball inside the goal. It's too much of a stretch and, frankly, sounds more like a conspiracy theory than a sporting tactic.

But take marathon. The objective cannot be to reach the goal because that would be much easier by car.

Foot races are boring, but the objectives are clear. As for cars, obviously the rules do not allow their use. In Football it would be easier for the running back to drive a tank through the defensive line rather than try to run the ball, but the rules make no allowances for that.

The objective can also not be to run a given distance because depending on the starting position and the radius in which they take street corners each participant runs a different distance. So what is the objective there?

Trivial differences in distance are, well, trivial. There is a set course, so that's the course the runners run.

I'm not saying I find any interest in seeing men, or women, run for 2+ hours, but at least the objective is clear (though, as in basketball, why ot just run the last mile and do several races instead of one?). You also don't see the runners engage in theatrics, run near the goal without quite reaching it, argue with the officials, or any display of colored cards.

You want a non-sport along those lines try the march. The objective is clear but thoroughly irrational: to cover a set distance not as fast as possible. It simply makes no sense to walk where you can run. And then there are the officials carefully watching that no foot should ever leave the ground until and unless the other foot has made contact with the ground, otherwise they get the vapors.

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To take your warfare metaphor, one could view Boxing as an individual battle within the greater battle. Kinda the same, but different perspective.

What would the greater battle be? Possesion of the ring's corner? Capturing the leather bag of ointments?

There are objective criteria in Boxing as well. It is just that they are subjectively interpreted.

Read that twice and try to keep from laughing :)

FWIW, the effort to remove the subjectivity from Boxing (and other contact sports where "subtlety" is involved) have led to the disgusting mess that is Olympic Boxing,

Iagree. Olympic boxing is a disgusting mess that takes away airtime from scantily clad gymnasts (that is what you meant, right?) I mean, once you're past the women's gymnastics, there's not much lese to recommend the summer games (well, the scantily clad women who compete in track and field, but they're not as well groomed).

I'm sure the Jackass fans would dig it. :D

Jackass fans would immitate it and post in on Youtube ;)

In any case, just as there are fans of Ballroom Dancing and women's sports (like soccer :pirate: ), there are always going to be those that "get" a sport, and those that don't. I refuse to let this particular expression of individuality keep me from making fun of the fans of sports I don't "get". :lol:

I'd rather make fun of the "sports" themselves. It's easier and there's more material to mine and exploit, too. And I've yet to mention many peculiar "sports." Except for "Cricket," I believe it's called, because no one who has ever lived ever understood what it was all about.

As to ball room dancing, it is a perfectly legitimate form of competition, but it isn't a sport (I waver about figure skating, too). And there's nothing in this world quite as lovely as a beautiful woman in a flowing gown.

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  • 1 year later...
It's not a sport if it can't kill you. . . . .

Then unfortunately that means football and baseball are a sport

I stopped following sports about a week after I started jumping out of planes.

My a father a retired Air Force pilot would always say when the subject of skydiving came up "Never understood why people would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane"

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