Browsing All Posts filed under »punditry«

“Great Team Chemistry No Match For Great Team Biology”

March 7, 2012

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That was a recent headline from The Onion, and as usual, the short article that followed it pretty much wrote itself.  “I’ve never seen a team work in sync with itself as well as A&M did tonight, but unfortunately, they were up against players who have bodies far better adapted for playing basketball,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas […]

What we cannot reliably learn from former NFL players about the “bounty” system (or anything else)

March 7, 2012

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It goes without saying that most of the chatter on the sports networks comes from the mouths of former players and coaches. There may typically be one journalist or “broadcaster” moderating a discussion, and occasionally there are non-player “experts” about particular subjects internal or external to the sport in question (from folks who analyze the […]

Bounty Ethics in the NFL

March 6, 2012

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It’s now day 5 of “bountygate” and there’s surely very little left to be said. For those not entranced by the blue glow of 24/7 sports gossip on ESPN and the NFL Network (where gaggles of pundits on retainer need something to gab about between the early-Februrary Super Bowl and the late-April draft), or for […]

The end of the beginning of the 2010 NFL season

October 4, 2010

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A well-rounded sport-spectator experience involves following several sports through the course of the year. Different sports showcase different features that make sports spectatorship rewarding: from the mental determination and courage of individual athletes in, say, golf, tennis, or the marathon, struggling to maintain focus in the face of self-doubt, pain, and exhaustion; to the perfectly […]

World Cup Memories

August 19, 2010

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A month after the end of the World Cup, I think it is about time I close a few tabs on my browser that have been holding particularly memorable reflections on that delirious month in the early summer. Here are a few quotes. I like this from the English novelist Tim Parks, in the New […]

More on Blown Calls: which sport is worse?

August 17, 2010

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Here are a couple of quick addenda to the last post on the different types of challenges that officials face in different sports, and how this should affect decisions about introducing technology (or expanding its use) to overcome the “human error factor” in officiating. First, I want to point to the articles that prompted me, even […]

What’s Wrong With Soccer Broadcasting? (Soccer vs American Sports, part 4)

July 22, 2010

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The job of sports broadcasters is to help viewers see the order and intention where the untrained eye sees only chaos. We expect broadcasters to be experts of the game. (By “broadcasters” I mean the entire team, from the people who plan and select the camera angles and design or use replay and “telestrator” technology, to […]

Soccer vs American Sports, Part 2: In praise of defense

July 15, 2010

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In Part 1 of this little series, I argued — well, asserted — that an appreciation of the individual and team defensive plays and strategies is an essential component of sports connoisseurship. As a corollary, a sport in which defense is either non-existent (say, bowling, golf, or most track-and-field events, for all intents and purposes), […]

Soccer vs American Sports, Part 1: Dissing defense

July 13, 2010

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We’ll get back to the 3rd part of the series on the ethics of diving soon. In the meantime, while the World Cup is still fresh, I’m starting a new series of reflections on some of the ways fans of North American team sports (principally American football, baseball, basketball, and hockey) might think about what […]

World Cup diary #1

June 15, 2010

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I love everything about the World Cup. I love even the things I hate about the World Cup. Since these things — the gamesmanship, the aristocratic governance of the sport, the nationalism, the ridiculous narratives people map onto the results, the over-looming factor of luck that seals fates, and the resulting “unfairness” and tragedy of […]

The imperfect game, Part 5 of 5: The irrational quest to tame chance

June 10, 2010

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Are the businessmen in charge of baseball trying to manage their precarious pre-modern brand by preserving its quaintest features? Or is there a recognition by the high-priests in charge that we have to reconcile ourselves with the essential element of luck and chance that is shot through the game of baseball. Those who passionately want […]

The imperfect game, Part 4: Do umps really need to be part of the game?

June 10, 2010

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The Imperfect Game debate has revived a long-standing debate about how to treat umpires and their fallibility as “part of the game.” Everything we know about human perception and cognitive psychology informs us that umpires will  blow calls. Most of the blowable calls, including Joyce’s call last week, involve “judgments” that have to be made […]

The imperfect game, Part 3: The end-game bias

June 10, 2010

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It is significant that the perfect game was denied at the point of the last out. If the incident had happened in the 4th inning and Galarraga had gone on to pitch a one-hit complete game would anything like the same controversy have ensued? (That was a rhetorical question.) There is a pervasive, but surely […]

The imperfect game, Part 2: The paradox of changing the rules to award the perfect game

June 10, 2010

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The passionate debate shows how much we all interpret baseball players as competing against all of their baseball ancestors as much as they are against their rivals this season. The blown call made absolutely no difference to the result — that is, to the result of a relatively meaningless game in the midst of a […]

The imperfect game. In our imperfect world. Part 1

June 10, 2010

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Writing and traveling for my day job have distracted me from the blog for a busy three weeks in the sporting world. And in particular, other deadlines and a trip abroad kept me from weighing in on The Imperfect Game: when Armando Galarraga earned the 27th consecutive out, but was denied his perfect game when […]

The dreaded 2-goal lead

May 12, 2010

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I’m watching my beloved Montreal Canadiens trying to defend a 2-goal lead in a game 7. As Andrew Potter observes, the worst cliche in hockey is the idea that the 2-goal lead is the most dangerous lead to defend. Now I know what [they’re] getting at: With a one-goal lead, a team keeps its focus, […]

Why is hockey analysis always so lame? Part 3: It’s hard

May 10, 2010

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I’m obviously making this up as I go along; but if you’ve read Why is hockey analysis (almost) always so lame? Part 1 and Part 2, thanks for bearing with me. So far I have talked mostly about the ways in which hockey analysis (on TV, in the daily press) is so frustratingly superficial. I […]

Why is hockey analysis always so lame? Part 2: The Broadcasters

May 7, 2010

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I don’t remember a world without instant replay; although I was born into such a world. After clever but misbegotten attempts to use instant replay from the mid-1950s on, it is generally conceded that the first “modern” use — and not yet slow-motion — was in the broadcast of the Army-Navy football game in December […]

Why is hockey analysis almost always so lame? Part 1

May 4, 2010

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My friend Andrew Potter (author of the sizzling new book The Authenticity Hoax) tweeted a link on Friday [when I began writing this post] to a compelling contrast between the two biggest stars in the world of ice hockey, the Russian Alexander Ovechkin and the Canadian Sydney Crosby. The column in question was by Steve Simmons, who has covered hockey […]

Why the NCAA basketball Tournament is the “American Idol” of sports

April 25, 2010

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[Warning: What follows is an overly long post, even by the standards of this rambling blog. It is summarized over the last 3 paragraphs or so.] At some point during the month-long March Madness gabfest on sports talk-radio Mike Greenberg (on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning”) was railing against proposals to expand the tournament […]

More on what makes golf great. And not so great.

April 11, 2010

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In the last post I sketched out some of the reasons why Tiger fans (and some Tiger haters) like golf. And by “like” in sports I don’t mean merely “enjoy” it or have a “revealed preference” for it. A true sports aficionado likes sports in the way an art-lover or wine-lover likes their thing. As […]

What can we learn from Tiger?

April 11, 2010

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Tiger Woods could be the poster child for This Sporting Life. When I began this blog I identified four broad areas of interest for me at intersection of sports-philosophy-sociology. Thinking about sports can tell us a lot about punditry, institutional design and ethics (or sportsmanship), cultural identities, and what it is that we find beautiful […]

Meet David, the new Goliath: Butler’s victory over Duke marks the dawn of a new era in college basketball

April 6, 2010

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Move over Gonzaga, Villanova, George Mason, and the Western Texas Miners. There’s a new Cinderella in town. Take that, Goliath: there’s a new David. Butler’s unlikely run all the way to the National Championship last night was like cotton-candy-for-breakfast in the sports media this morning. Many in the American sports chattering class routinely profess their […]

Evaluating proposed rule-changes in sports: is there a word for this kind of enquiry?

April 5, 2010

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There is nothing I love more in sports punditry than a spirited debate over a controversial rule-change for a major team sport. There is no better way to get people to reveal what they value most in the experience of watching and following sports. And at the moment there’s a lot of this going around: a new […]

Why the new NFL overtime rule is an improvement

March 26, 2010

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Real NFL fans should like the new overtime rule — especially once it gets applied to the regular season — for the same reason that most of the real NFL coaches hate it. It holds out the promise of more high drama of the kind the NFL does best: where the coaching staff have to make […]

The old NFL overtime rule was not unfair

March 23, 2010

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On Tuesday the owners of the NFL franchises agreed to change to the rules for how to deal with playoff games that end in a tie after “regulation” time. (On average, about one of the 11 games each post-season is tied after 60 minutes.) The old rule was simple: a coin toss gave one team […]

Are women’s sports “separate but equal”?

March 19, 2010

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We are rightly suspicious of arguments that justify institutional arrangements that promise to be “separate but equal.” These three conjoined words have had a unique ring in American culture ever since the landmark unanimous decision by the Supreme Court in the Brown v. Board of Education case (1954). The Court declared that “separate educational facilities are […]

How do women’s sports measure up?

March 18, 2010

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You’d hardly know it watching ESPN these days, but there are actually two NCAA D1 college basketball championships going on now: one for men, and one for women. In general there is a pretty sharp line in “official” sporting competitions between men and women, or men’s and women’s teams. In fact, it is probably a […]

Meta-bracketology, part 2: Madness by design

March 12, 2010

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I am willing to defend the NCAA’s current system for selecting the 65 teams in the national championship Tournament. But first a confession. I am also willing to admit that I know very little about basketball. I guess I know as much as most casual fans: I can follow the ball with the best of […]

Meta-bracketology: is there method behind March Madness?

March 11, 2010

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There’s a 24-hr sports cycle in America, with several sports networks available on my cable menu any time of the day or night. ESPN alone gives me at least six, not including their virtual on-demand channels on the web. And yet most of the time no sporting matches are being played live. By even the […]

Play ball!

February 8, 2010

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This is a blog about politics, philosophy, sociology, and punditry. But it will talk exclusively about sports; usually spectator sports. My working hypothesis is that the way we think and talk about sports isn’t just analogous to the way we think and talk about some other important things in life – like business and politics. It […]