seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Sports

Thoughts on sports and games

Football is a Stupid Sport?

I've long been amused by those who claim that football is dumb or a game for stupid people. Often, this is argued by avid baseball fans, which is fairly stunning. At any rate, I think football is fairly amazing - and the sport that comes closest to a cross between war and chess.

Coaches are possibly more important in football than in any other sport - coming up with defensive and offensive strategies and play calls. But those on the field have to know what is going on as well.

The defensive players have to read the offensive formation, down count, yards to first down, and compare it to what they have seen this team do in the past (players spend a lot of time watching game tapes from previous weeks). In a deafening environment (many sports photographers and others on the sidelines wear ear plugs), they have to communicate to each other to anticipate the upcoming play and plan their coverage.

Offensive players are reading the defense, but none more so than the vaunted quarterback. Depending on the freedom accorded to them by their coach, they may regularly make changes to the play depending on defensive formation. This passage comes from a Sports Illustrated article covering the play Brett Favre called that gave him the most thrown touchdowns in the history of the NFL (written by Peter King).

Oh yeah, and there is always a clock counting down... this comes 8 seconds before the play clock ticked 00....

As Favre, in the shotgun, prepared to take the snap from center Scott Wells, he looked up and saw two reasons to worry: To Favre's left, linebacker E.J. Henderson was fixing to blitz; and to the quarterback's right, about 10 yards up the field, free safety Dwight Smith was positioned directcly in the line of Jenning's pass route. Favre realized he had to call an audible. But that noise...

"Today was as loud as I've heard a stadium in recent memory," Favre said afterward. "I think we went on silent snap count on all but two plays [all game]." The audible was Y Dragon: Instead of tight end Donald Lee's running 12 yards upfield, which would encourage Smith to clog the middle, Favre, wanted Lee to run a shallow flat route toward the sideline. This would give Jennings, who was split right, single coverage on a quick slant to the post. And the defender covering Jennings would be a rookie nickelback, Marcus McCauley. "I needed a quick-strike play because we probably weren't going to be able to block all they were bringing," Favre said. "Y Dragon was perfect."

At any rate, the article continues and I don't want to copy any more down, but it is stunning the things that go through Favre's head as he runs around to shout at everyone the change and weighs the merits of a time-out but decides not to call it because then the Vikings will change their formation and they will lose this opportunity. He gets the snap off at 01.

I know this will drive my Favre-hater parents nuts, but the guy is damn impressive and I hope the Pack does well this year.

TC Marathon

Kimmi has completed another feat of endurance - doing the Twin Cities Marathon in ridiculous heat and humidity for October in Minnesota. I have more photos that I will get up presently. Until then, I'm not sure if Kimmi completed a running marathon or an eating one!

Kim eats her way throught the TC Marathon

Women in Sports

The NY Times has a distressing article on the rate of head injuries in female athletes. Some new research suggests that girls are more susceptible to concussions than boys. Not sure why.

The article highlights young women who have had injuries and face the difficult choice of whether to continue playing and risk further damage or to quit their loves. I believe that everything you do carries risks and I do know the pain of being forced to give up your favorite activity due to permanent injury. I'm just glad mine was purely physical and did not affect cognition.

That being said, I hope this does not cause some people to pull their daughters out of sports or to cause some to claim that women are not as good at sports as men. This weekend again reminded me of how amazing women athletes are. The Germany-Brazil World Cup final was tremendous (though I hoped Brazil would win, not Germany). The best player in the world, Brazil's Marta, was not as flashy as during the USA game but was still great to watch. Her moves in the US game were possibly superior but definitely even to the best moves I've seen men make in the World Cup.

The Minnesota Gophers kicked off their Big Ten schedule with 2 victories at home. After seeing several non-conference games, the first Big Ten matches reminded me of how physical they play.

The upshot is that playing sports carries risks. It is also really fun and can teach you more about being part of a team than any other activity (that won't get you blowed up). The question is when your body forces you to stop. That is a judgment call - but needs to be made carefully.

Me? I threw caution to the wind yesterday and ran quickly into the bookstore, 8-10 paces while Randy's back was turned so I could smack him in the chest before he saw me coming and it was definitely worth it. I miss being able to run without consequence but at least my brain works (mostly).

On the subject of women in technology, I found this comic amusing.

Trotter: Always an Eagle to me

The Eagles released a linebacker and team leader: Jeremiah Trotter. Ordinarily, I would not comment on that, but this article shows how a professional athlete with class conducts himself. Others should take notice. I'll miss him.

Congrats

Kimmi completed yet another tri today - the Minneapolis Lifetime Fitness Olympic-length triathlon. She came in under 3 hours - way to go, kiddo!

Kimmi biking it

Gopher Goal

If you have not yet seen the amazing overtime Gopher goal against North Dakota in the conference (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) championship last weekend, you should follow that link and watch it (thanks to Walchka for linking to it).

The Gophers were underdogs against a fierce North Dakota team. They dominated the game, but only put it away on that huge overtime goal.

Tubby Smith

The University of Minnesota is getting Tubby Smith, former coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, as men's basketball coach. The Gophers have had a struggling team ever since Clem Haskins left the program when violations of NCAA rules were made public.

I want to be a big fan of the Gophers and I think Tubby is a good coach with a proven track record. My concerns with the Gophers are that they develop into a winning program and increase the basketball player graduation rates. Tubby's record at Kentucky for graduation isn't great, but isn't rock bottom either.

Apparently, he'll be getting a ton of money - so I hope he earns it. The majority of respondents to this Strib poll welcome him, so that is nice.

Eagles

Definitely disappointed in the Eagles performance tonight. They were lackluster all night with an occasional burst of greatness. For the most part, they placed in a mediocre fashion. Then the decision to punt. I have no idea how Andy could have thought that was a good idea, but when you have only 20 seconds to make a decision, it isn't always the best one I guess.

I'll be rooting for San Diego now - just have to see San Diego win the Superbowl after Eli (post-season record 0-2) Manning wouldn't play for them because they were not good enough and showed no promise.

I'm proud to be an Eagles fan. This was a tough night, but they did far better than most expected after a rough patch in the middle of the season. Go Birds.

Honest Dopers

Looks like 2 of Lance's former teammates have admitted to using EPO (common doping substance) while working for Lance. They both said that they never saw Lance dope.

Although I believe that Landis, Hamilton, and every other biker dopes, I still wonder about Lance. With his genetic advantages (large heart, lactic acid absorption abilities) I don't know that he absolutely had to cheat to win those 7 tours - even if everyone around him was cheating.

But maybe I am totally deluding myself.

Ouch

I find myself taking an early break at work. Stunned by the BBC telling me "Landis gives positive drugs test." Landis. I just watched this man win the Tour de France over 22 days. I never gave up on him, immersing myself in him. Bragging about him.

Tyler Hamilton comes to mind. The last person to so inspire me. The last person to ride so hard past adversity and pain and to show us what we all can do. The last person to inspire me that if I worked hard enough, I too could ignore pain to achieve the goal. The last hero to fail a drug test.

Yeah. He isn't guilty yet. We'll wait to see what the second sample test shows. I'll hope for some sort of evidence he didn't cheat. My brain screams, "Stop making heroes of athletes."

My heart recalls Alix Olson. You want some good poetry, you listen to an Alix Olson CD.

My heart says

Sometimes anger's subtle, stocked in metaphor
Full of finesse and dressed in allure
Yeah, sometimes anger's subtle, less rage than sad
Leaking slow through spigots you didn't know you had
But sometimes it's just
Fuck you,
Fuck you
You see,
and to me
That's poetry too.

To be clear, my heart is parroting these words from Alix.

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