Monday, June 27

The Best Thing That Could Have Happened

"...To the United States Men's National Soccer Team

was losing 4-2 to Mexico."

Is the inverted start to the article in question.

The article then goes on to say that the goal of the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team should be to win a World Cup.

Sure, of course.
(And no argument that Coach Bradley doesn't keep the long-term in mind at all times)

But how?
By what paradigm?

That is, what IS American Soccer?

1. High Work Rate.
Seriously. The ability/desire to keep on plugging away. To fight on in the moments during which the French would fold. Full-tilt soccer. Not total football, but high-impact, full-tilt soccer. All of the players from the US already display this because they're from "that other sport" in the US. They're not football, baseball or basketball players. They're not even trackstars. Or homestar runners. They're soccer players. They've had to prove themselves over and over again to everyone around them because they play the forgotten game in the US. Often, w/r/t the players in other countries, "high work rate" is a euphemism for "not that talented". In the US? That is the entry fee to soccer. That is to say, you better at least work hard at that stupid no-hands sport you've chosen.

2. Linear Thinking.
There is one creative payer on the US team. He is Clint Dempsey. He is an outlier. In this context, he is *the* outlier. No one else sees what he sees. No one else in the US does what he does. We're massive fucking country and we can't produce another Dempsey? This, to me, says that we're either not trying hard enough or that the other Dempseys play other sports for more money. Or that the more athletic versions of him do. Or that we don't know how to produce/develop that kind of instinct/talent. Point remains that, for whatever reason, we don't produce savants at the game. At least not yet.

3. (F)Risky
That is, "not risk-averse". That is, we need to be comfortable losing 4-0 because we took chances that could have made us win 3-2. The balance of the game is in individual moments. Then there is all of this other stuff that develops/provides opportunities for brilliance. If we are fundamentally bad at brilliance (see lack of creativity above), we need more opportunities to possibly create those transcendent football/soccer moments. This will cost resources at other points on the fields which can then be exploited. Great teams will do this. 90 out of 100 times Spain, as currently constituted, will KILL us. But 90/100 is better than 97/100. And then we need to bang our collective head against the wall. Again.

our counterattacking style of play doesn't give us that many chances to win games, but fitness, preparation, and a firm belief in our identity has helped the U.S

Yes on fitness. Yes on prep. Yes on belief (though we don't know what that belief is *in* just yet).

Why the fuck are we playing a style that doesn't give us many chances to win games? That is something for the HUAC. The thing about los Norteamericanos is that we want to believe we can/will win everything. Ever. Why else would Rocky be big in America? No matter the odds, so long as we've got our girl and our curmudgeon, we'll fight until we die or win. We'll run stairs and punch meat to prove it.

I know, it is soccer/football. We can play for (tie/draw)s. They are part of the game. And, as an individual, I love that. But as an American? FUCK THAT SHIT. We're tied late in the game? PULL THE KEEPER!!! Even if you don't sub for him put the motherfucker UP. Win or lose, we go ALL IN. After all, Texas Hold'em was won from Mexico years ago by Davy Crockett losing big-time. Should we not embrace the style that is "All-in"?

The Spanish pass the ball. The Brazilians play the beautiful game. The English pack it in and counterattack.

Do we really want to be English? Forget it. Gamble a little. Gamble a lot. Play freely and with an aggressively high work rate. Play dumb but dumb like a fox. Play for the jugular rather than for a slow bleed from self-inflicted wounds.

Killshot = US Soccer.

By whom the killshot is received is irrelevant.

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Tuesday, June 21


"The saddest moment in the career of a great athlete

is the one when he's tagged with the word "still." One day you're fast. One day you're slow. There's an in-between day when you're "still fast," and that's the day when everything hollows out."

Wow. That's a hell of a paragraph.

And it fits right in with the self-acknowledged pretentiousness of the piece (Though if we're not aiming for the stars, where exactly are we aiming?).

The thing that comes to mind to me is the timeline of ultimate. What was it? What is it now? What will it be in the future?

Well, to think of it a little more critically, what sports is ultimate like? Hmm... You need crazy motor control in order to throw and catch the thing. You need to be able to sprint. Repeatedly. You need to be able to play defense with aggression. You need to be able to focus. You need to be able to do this over time, both in terms of over a weekend and over a season and over years. It's like running a marathon. But with defense. And instead of "at a steady pace", it is all in fits and starts. And for two (or more) consecutive days. Oh, and you need to be able to jump, not just run. You need to be able to stop, not just start.

Yikes. So, what's the corollary?

Well, it is something like tennis in terms of "Forehands, backhands, overheads" and the incredible sheer hours of repetition it takes to truly master the variations of sending the plastic through the sky. It is also similar in the grueling nature of the thing. Sure, you get to take more time off, you have coaches and teammates to help you mentally and physically, but you also have actual physical contact with your opponents. Your movements are not without impediment.

To get to the understanding of when the ultimate player begins to decline, we can look at the ages of champions over the years. I won't do the research, I will just make it up based on memory, but the average age of "the champs" has to have declined from when Boston was running shit. I would imagine this is because players now have had more time as kids throwing. Also, more and more people are training for real. So, an old guy and a young guy train the same amount, the young guy is better quipped to win the athletics of the competition. If he old guy outworks the young guy... You get DoG, as I recall.

But what about the compounding of physical wear-n-tear as a result of doing all of this necessary training? All this necessary competing? If you star playing tournaments in middle school and play high school, club, summer league, winter league, college, club... how much punishment are you giving yourself? How much can one body take?

That is to say "Where does space under the curve of mastery most overlap with the space under the curve of physical prowess" w/r/t ultimate?

Baseball players can play near-forever. Almost as long as golfers can hang on. Not so much running, lots of ways to contribute to overall effectiveness in the sport, etc.
Basketball players can last, depending on attributes like physical gifts, work ethic, role on the floor and the like. Much like soccer in this respect.
Football players can play their roles for extended periods based on physical gifts (being large enough and coordinated enough to play O-line, for example) or understanding of the game (QBs, some DBs) but with the exception of some outliers (as in all rambling examples) RBs, WRs, LBs and other high-collision positions have very limited lifespans.
Tennis players drop like a rock. They've barely had time to develop/understand their games before they can no longer play anymore.

I think ultimate is most like tennis in this respect. I could keep rambling on, but the thing is that the future of ultimate is a combination of grueling play and high technical acuity. The closest comparison to me still seems to be tennis.

Here ends this hastily-typed previously-aired-in-conversation bloggery about the timeline of ultimate.

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Tuesday, June 7


sums up

the problems i've been having

ascribing meaning to sports.

What a world what a world.

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