Browsing All Posts filed under »soccer«

Which sports are best and worst to watch live? Part I, general observations

March 17, 2011

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At one point in the highly entertaining Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan a couple of nights ago we were treated to an extended period in which Bayern’s back four passed the ball back and forth across the pitch. You might have thought they were simply time-wasting, except that it came at […]

What’s in it for the paying spectator?

March 9, 2011

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I’m guessing, conservatively, that 98% of the sporting events I’ve watched in my lifetime have been on TV. And I’m guessing that this fact does not make me stand out among sports fans. Properly speaking, I am a big fan of sports-on-TV, not of sports as such. And sure, I have always enjoyed playing sports; but […]

And just like that… it’s the beginning of the end of the 2010-11 NFL season

January 14, 2011

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Sorry about that. I disappeared for three months. From here, anyway. Life happens. There was so much going on I had to choose between writing about sports and watching sports in my free time, and I opted for the latter. Hopefully I can continue to do both from now on. In the meantime, the long […]

Great athletes are not born, they’re made… then sold to the highest bidder

September 23, 2010

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It has been a big week for philosophizing about sports at Duke University, where I teach. Perhaps this helps us take our minds off a crushing loss to Alabama, the NCAA football national champions, who played here last weekend. First it was Justice Samuel A. Alito reflecting on how cheering for the Phillies made him, […]

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 […]

Blown Calls: How distracting is the human element in sports officiating?

August 17, 2010

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We can learn a lot about how sports differ from each other by focusing on the role of the officials — referees, umpires, linesmen, judges, timekeepers, and of course video-replay officials. Some sports involve officials being asked to make very “objective” clear-cut (if often difficult) calls: was serve on the line? who crossed the finish […]

Embracing the Arbitrary, part 1: why arbitrary rules make sports great.

August 14, 2010

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At the end of the previous post I promised to explore some implications of the late Professor Suits’s extraordinary clarification of the concept of a game. (And then I disappeared into work and travel for more than a week.) The intuition is that a better understanding of what makes a sport a sport will help […]

It’s a Funny Old Game. Of course: games are weird by definition

August 1, 2010

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Legendary English striker Jimmy Greaves found opportunities every week to shake his head, smile, and note what a “funny old game” football (soccer) was. We might call that a catchphrase now. But, at least in his early years as a television pundit in the 1980s, it always seemed to come out as his most genuine, […]

Soccer vs American Sports, part 5: Does taking the hands out of play make a sport inferior?

July 31, 2010

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During the 2002 World Cup, Allen Barra, a great American sports writer (and acclaimed reviewer of books in general) published an infamous anti-soccer rant. The target of the rant was an alleged “swarm of soccer nerds and bullies reminding us how backward and provincial we [good ol’ American sports fans] are for not appreciating soccer […]

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 3: Going with the flow

July 20, 2010

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Dazzling offensive plays are the pop music of sports. Like catchy tunes, they are hard not to love. Even more, they are like the vocals and the melody of pop-music hooks. (You can sing these yourself in the shower or on the school bus, without realizing that the song was a hit because of the […]

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 […]