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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Does it matter whether Good Rex or Bad Rex shows up?

Posted By on 01.06.07 at 07:38 AM

click to enlarge 664.jpg

Adam Gopnik describes the astonishing difference between the illusion of freedom in football seen on TV and the deterministic reality seen on the field (New Yorker, not online yet, but read the whole thing when possible, 'cause Gopnik is the best even when he's not quite at the top of his game):

On television, the quarterback peers out into the distance within the narrowed frame of the midfield camera and for a moment everything seems possible; the viewer can't know if there's a wide-open man fifty yards deep of if there is nothing ahead ... but despair -- four men crowding two receivers, who aren't even bothering to wave their arms.

"On the field, the quarterback backpedals, rolls right and takes a look, and what is available -- or not -- is, within half a second, pitifully evident.  [But] on television you see free will instead of a series of forced choices, mostly bad. The quarterback, the gallant general, peering out, in command, becomes, in reality, a stitch in the pattern already woven, his fate nearly sealed before he gets to fiddle with it.

Then again, that might just be the way the world looks when you have to root for the Jets.

(BTW, Sean Carroll at Cosmic Variance offers a beautifully concise animated graphic representing the action of Penn State's upset of Tennessee on January 1.) 

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