The Relativity of Soccer Strategy

Strategy or poor taste? Our Italian friends find a way to accomplish both. Be sure to note the relativisitic tone of the participants! Here are the real questions; First, did anyone injure a knee in the process? And second, can David Dunham really give us insight into the mentality of a sport that encourages this sort of thing?

About Ben Bartlett

Ben Bartlett lives in Louisville, Ky., with his wife and two terrific kids. His degree is in Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy from Michigan State University, and he has a bunch of education from a bunch of other places with nothing official to show for it. He has taught high school speech and debate, worked for a congressman in Washington DC, and worked in the health and energy industries. He is interested in how pop culture, history, politics, and theology interact with the inner and community lives of individuals... which is weird because he now works as a business analyst. Few things make him happier than reading, discussing, and recommending books.

  • Dave Dunham

    It’s not the sport’s fault that some guys like to moon goalkeepers. I hear tale that in the dogpile of a football game guys throw fists into one another’s groins…that’s way worse in my opinion! Ben will look for any reason to hate on soccer…go watch one of your boring ten hour long baseball games, brother.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    ::sigh:: I cannot deny it. I WILL spend 15 seconds looking for something to hate about soccer (that’s about how long it takes). Baseball is a thinking man’s game… I miss it already.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • David Dunham

    It’s only a thinking man’s game because it’s so boring you have nothing worth watching…soccer is far more intellectual! It takes far more strategy to set up a goal than it does to whack, catch, and run.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    I’ll give you that soccer has more strategy than baseball. Basebally isn’t really a strategic game like soccer or football- it’s more of a game based on making smart decisions. These decisions are all based on the ability to predict- do I leave my pitcher in or warm up the reliever? Do I pitch down and away or high and inside? Do I play for the force at second or the tag at home?

    So maybe football is a game for war generals and chess masters, soccer is a game for tank battalion captains and pinochle players, and baseball is a game for… actuaries.

    Still, I don’t feel a love for soccer like I do for baseball or football. I get my “strategic” fix from tennis… it has a similar level of strategy, only at a higher speed.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    You people with the spectator gene crack me up ^_^

    The Danes last blog post..20081106.ObamaTax

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    That’s funny, I am similarly amused toward Americans who spend their time watching and thinking about Satoshi Kon’s portrayal of Japanese personal and national identity struggles through the medium of anime cartoons. Interesting parrallel.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Ah, but I’ve tried your poison. Can you say similarly?
    _____________________

    Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that I’m not quite sure the analogy is all that analogous. It was funny. Just not so analogous. Like comparing watching the Super Bowl with reading Dostoevsky.

    Let’s give the idea a spin with a little game. One of there things is not like the others (choose best answer):

    a) The Bible
    b) Lacrosse
    c) The Grapes of Wrath
    d) Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” Speech

    The Danes last blog post..20081106.ObamaTax

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    e) Cartoons

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Still funny, but not as much as last time. Diminishing returns being what they are.
    _________________

    So I guess the honest question here is should we prejudice a communicated message based the medium through which it arrives? I tend to think not, imagining that valuable ideas may be conveyed through any number of media (e.g., film, television, comic books, music, animation, radio, video games, etc.). Whether a product of a particular medium conveys a meaning worth consideration or not should be judged on an individual basis of course, but the judging should always be based on a product’s merits.

    Otherwise we run into a can-anything-good-come-out-of-Galilee sort of thing. And then the children cry.

    The Danes last blog post..20081106.ObamaTax

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    I don’t think it’s much of a question… I would undoubtedly say you are correct that a message is just as valuable whether it is communicated through a dusty tome or glossy art. I would generally affirm your interaction with truth in an art form that especially appeals to you.

    However, the baiting and teasing begins as a response to… well, baiting and teasing. I would argue that there is a lot of joy and learning to be found in interaction with sports. Many things that I know about business, mathematics, character, leadership, strategy, and the like are lessons I learned from watching, critiquing, and especially playing sports.

    Further, from a pastoral perspective, a great advantage that sports have over anime (at least in American culture) is that there are far more opportunities for interaction. When I seek to lead others to a greater understanding of God and the Gospel of Christ, it is helpful to begin with points of commonality… work, family, and interests. I cannot tell you how much more relational interaction I am able to have with average Joe’s (non-plumber variety) because I am well-versed in most major American sports.

    So if watching baseball doesn’t appeal to the more comic-minded among us, I have no problem with that. But I do think that placing Japanese anime on a higher intellectual plane than the world of sports is a misunderstanding of the richness and value of truth and human insight that can be found in the world of athletic competition and achievement.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    But I do think that placing Japanese anime on a higher intellectual plane than the world of sports is a misunderstanding of the richness and value of truth and human insight that can be found in the world of athletic competition and achievement.

    That may be. And to make that statement honestly, I think one would have to say the same when comparing the reading of literature and the watching of sports. I’m just not sure how many people would be willing to make that kind of concession.

    I agree that things can certainly be learnt playing sports. And probably even learnt by watching sports—though I’ll be honest that the pedagogy in the latter is less apparent to me (at least any pedagogy that wouldn’t likewise exist in any human-watching endeavor—say, observing customers in line at $tarbucks).

    Part of the problem in the comparison is, I think, a difference in categories. With communicative media (art, film, lit, comics, animations, etc.), you have an author (at least one) attempting to convey a particular meaning or set of ideas to the reader/viewer. This is wholly different from sports. In sports, ideas may be conveyed but those ideas are* incidental to the purpose of the participants.

    Popular wrestling may be an exception to this.

    *note: or at least seem to me until I am given a new framework through which to understand sports spectation.
    ______________________________

    Also, I totally agree with you about the relational aspect of sports spectating. I despise attending men’s fellowships or retreats because I am completely an outsider. Because I can’t generate, well, any interest in watching sports, I am always left out of whatever conversations are going on when more than two other guys get together. And it’s not that I don’t like sports. I love to play and had always been very athletic (multiple back injuries from sports have put a damper on this in recent years). But watching sports for me is like watching someone write the Great American Novel. They’re doing something worthwhile, but watching the process just doesn’t interest me.

    So yeah, as a pastor, I’m sure that caring about who’s in the NCAA finals could give you some sort of bond with a whole lot of people. Kinda like how I personally would be extra interested in a pastor who enjoyed the works of Studio Ghibli, read and appreciated Jimmy Corrigan, and would be willing to bust out a quick game of Puerto Rico.

    The Danes last blog post..20081106.ObamaTax

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    “In sports, ideas may be conveyed but those ideas are* incidental to the purpose of the participants.

    *note: or at least seem to me until I am given a new framework through which to understand sports spectation.”

    I hear what you are saying. You are right that as far as communications of ideas goes, Japanese animation is more effective than watching football. However, I think I would equate the value of spectation not so much to philosophical ideas (though as you say, those can come up in an incidental fashion), but to the study of history.

    After all, much of historical study does not include philosophical ideas as such. At its base, it is a recitation of facts out of which we draw themes.

    But the study of history tells us much that is true… truth about pragmatic effectiveness (“what works”), truth about human values and decision making, truth about motivation and character. Further, we often study history so that we can learn “cross-disciplinary” solutions. In other words, I apply John Adams’ presidential decisions to my leadership of a small group, or use John Boyd’s approach to designing fighter planes in analyzing a massive electrical bill contract for a client.

    I think, for the serious spectator, sports are more than mere entertainment (though they are that). Sports provide close examination of human decision making, intricate problem solving, and metaphors for human conflict. All these are valuable for strengthening the mind.

    Further, these same concepts are easier to communicate to others because sports are such a universal metaphor. It is much easier to communicate the idea of solutions born of desperation when you have the term “Hail Mary” to fall back on.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Rephrasing sports spectation as being akin to history rather than to literature works for me. I can readily see how people can learn cross-disciplinary principles in both strategy and tactics. Kinda like how people study Sun-Tzu as a capitalist paradigm.

    Riding the Consistency Train, this is where I guess I have to admit that I don’t really look to history for lessons either. Not that I see anything wrong with it. In this, I suppose History v. Literature as a source of pedagogy is a boat-floating sort of thing: whatever works for you.

    Considering this, I think that I personally learn less by example than I do by mere abstraction. (My long-time readers may be able to attest to this.) I’m not a good follower. (Actually, I’m not a good leader either, but that’s another story.) Even if I’m shown through history or example how a thing will probably work out, I prefer to think it all through fresh every time.

    This is both a benefit and a hindrance to me as I do come across innovative constructions fairly often, born wholly from my own musings, but simultaneously, I suffer from not allowing myself the benefit of standing on foundations built by others. Generally, anyway.

    As far as communication goes, I wasn’t aware until just now that a “Hail Mary” was a desperation-play. I knew it was a play. And I knew it was a football play. But I don’t have any context for the term beyond that—as I quite obviously don’t watch and apart from some flag when I was younger, football was not one of the sports I ever played.
    ________________________

    Hm, I suppose a note here is in order. Despite not learning from it, I do enjoy history. At least so far as it is conveyed as narrative. Incidentally, I did watch a 24-episode baseball anime once. It was the first time that I ever took any interest in watching the sport. I suppose because of the obvious narrative and scripted engagements.

    The Danes last blog post..20081106.ObamaTax

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    That is interesting to note… I do love abstract ideas, but I tend quite the opposite way. I very much beg, borrow, and steal ideas from history, example, and metaphor. That’s probably why, though I do love sports, I am more interested in the coaching style and strategy choices than I am in the mere excitement of an uncertain conclusion.

    It’s a helpful reminder that different folk apprehend concepts in very different ways. I imagine this should challenge me to always be finding more holistic ways of communicating information for the sake of my audience.

    Ben Bartletts last blog post..A Song and a Blessing


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