PS Further Thoughts to the Berkowitz Post, on Sports:

This is a post script to the post below on conservatism and the curriculum, only this is specifically about what I said there concerning sports and politcs:

So. Okay. I have to make An Important Confession.

I don't know anything about sports. It seems kinda strange to admit, but since my childhood sport was ... fencing ... I somehow barely played basketball, baseball, and never played football. I don't actually know how football is scored.

So when I say in the post, "I understand it if it's sports ..." what I mean is, understand in a completely abstract sense.

Experiencing a general existential unease at, I don't know, dying without ever having known anything about sports, professional or collegiate, I've been thinking in my dotage that maybe I should take up sports the way I once took up wine as a non-drinker who did all the winebuying for my wife (she figured out I'd buy better quality wine for her than she would). That is, take up wine as a quasi-Wittgensteinean exercise in seeing if I could accurately use the language of wine (shades of mushroom, hints of blueberry, and, heck, squiggles of LSD and rivets of meth) in a more than plausible way without ever having experienced the actual sensation.

It turns out this is not very hard with wine.

It might be some kind of alternative Turing test.

(Update: When I say alternative Turing test, I mean a test to determine whether I might not be a machine, perhaps engaged by the Senior Conspirator. but in fact not a human at all, but instead one of those academic phrase-paper generators. A highly advanced phrase generator, naturally. Have you seen through the deception yet??!)

I don't actually know how football is scored.
Maybe one of these two instructional videos will help.

If all else fails, just have another Big Orange.
6.13.2009 6:44pm
Anton Sirius (mail) (www):
Now I'm curious to know if you've read any of Michael Lewis' works set in the world of sports (The Blind Side, Moneyball, etc.), and whether they made sense to you in the abstract.
6.13.2009 6:48pm

It is a cultural test. Turing tests try to avoid those, because they can be faked or overcorrected. Kind of like how POWs would ask new POWs baseball questions to see if they were German spies in the camp - and if they didn't happen to know how Ty Cobb was, well, they were obviously infiltrators. (Or just didn't follow baseball.)
6.13.2009 6:56pm
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
Dave Barry suggested "nuances of toast" for wine discussions.
6.13.2009 7:13pm
ChrisRedux (mail):
However, from a Wittgensteinian perspective, you are part way 'there; because you recognize that the wine-language games is a wine-language game and that the sports- language game is a sports-language game.

See how far you have progressed from confusing chess with warfare?
6.13.2009 7:26pm

never played football

I thought you played quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals...
6.13.2009 7:54pm
Kenneth Anderson:
luagha: Ouch

Chrisredux: Double ouch!

Crimso: I am outed!
6.13.2009 8:32pm
Upend, Coming:
As for passing a Turing test, one of the funnier comments I have read was the following Person-computer-person instant message conversation.

P: Are you a computer?
C: Purple monkey apple jelly bean. Would a computer say that?
P: Actually. . . yes. That is exactly the sort of thing a computer would say.
6.14.2009 1:21am
David Hardy (mail) (www):
Be thankful that you don't (if you don't) teach at a school where sports is a whopping big thing. Then you'd read of how the U has to cut budgets and increase some frosh class sizes to over a thousand students, at the same time that it's devoting $200K plus salaries to assistance coaches.

On wines, just say "smooth going down, burns coming up."
6.14.2009 1:48am
Johhny (mail):
"I don't actually know how football is scored." Are you serious? These admissions illustrate a serious problem with many law professors and "scholars." They are Dorks. Huge, clueless Dorks.
6.14.2009 9:18am
arbitraryaardvark (mail) (www):
This post actually does a great deal to establish your credentials here.
6.14.2009 10:27am
This is a great post. I've never seen existential doubt combined with sports before.
6.14.2009 11:32am
"My childhood sport": why only one?
6.14.2009 4:09pm
Bruce, I take you you have never visited Cleveland, Detroit, or Philly? That is what the Browns, Lions, and Philly fans have left.
6.14.2009 9:05pm
[Sigh, shakes head] While I recognize that you are trying to improve your sports experience, I must protest your example of extremes.

I was an intercollegiate fencer, ranked in epee, and a football player. I also coached football for many years at the collegiate club, youth and high school levels.

And, as you learn more and more about football, you will find that, kinesiologically-speaking, fencing and modern offensive and defensive line-play in football have much in common, including footwork, hand placement and action, and tactics. Watch the feet of a good offensive lineman pass protecting ("kick out"), and tell me you don't recognize the footwork. This convergence was not true as recently as fifteen years ago, but it is certainly true now. One of my gurus as a line coach, Dave Sollazo of the University of Maryland, teaches all his players martial arts because his studies demonstrate the cross-over values (just ask the Chargers Shawne Merriman). It's all research, analysis and specialization these days.

Which brings me to another essential point for you: no one who tells you about football from the 90's or before is giving you much of value. (It is very easy to identify good coaches from bad: just see the ones who do things "the way I learned" as opposed to those who try to figure out what works best for the current group of players.) Football reinvents itself periodically, which is one of its distinguishing features, and the game today on the inside is often unknown to those who haven't taken the time to understand its evolution.

Good books to learn about football:

General introduction to all phases of the game: Coaching Youth Football, John McCarthy, Jr.

Good novel from the inside: Rough &Tumble, Mark Bavaro.

Understanding modern football techniques (which is actually more essential for understanding the game than tactics): Play Football the NFL Way, Tom Bass

Understanding modern high school and college football, plus the increasing value of the left tackle: Blind Side, Michael Lewis.

I could go on, but these will get you started.
6.15.2009 10:12am
"I don't actually know how football is scored."

Ah, good company then. Wasn't until my mid-20s that I finally figured out what a "first down" was. Never did figure out the attraction of a sport where the teams spend most of their time standing around holding meetings.
6.15.2009 11:24am

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