Saturday, May 5, 2007

Soccer v Basketball (with hella youtube clips)

[of course i thought the goal was sweet. i like soccer, or at least soccer highlights. a well set-up soccer goal is obviously a beautiful thing, but so is a well orchestrated fast break or pick and roll or give and go in basketball (especially if steve nash is involved). the aesthetic quality of those plays may be somewhat diluted because they occur more frequently than soccer goals, but that does not make them any less beautiful individually. take a look at this clip of jason williams highlights. those plays are as pretty as anything done on a soccer field (they have the same qualities: speed, coordination, vision and, above all, fluidity).

basically, my point is that a great soccer goal may be the best thing in sports, especially considering their important relative to the game. however, great basketball plays occur more frequently, making it more fun to watch in my opinion.]

Welcome to the Aesthetics of Sports Arena (ASA) round 1. Today's match up pits the featherweight soccer--aka football aka calcio aka the beautiful game--against the heavily favored basketball.

The verbal jabbing has already begun. Bball's strong left hook (in the form of Alberg's posted comment above) has been noted by the judges. bsto responds strongly:

First of all, basketball is inherently limited to such beautiful plays because of its most fundamental laws. Traveling, dribbling, etc. definitely handicaps a player's creative repertoire, although it would be foolish to deny that amazing tricks are possible.

Soccer, on the other hand, has no such limits except that you can't use your hands (which is only fair considering you can't use your feet in basketball). However, unlike basketball, soccer players can, if they so choose, balance the ball on the back of their necks and run all the way up the field--they may get clobbered on the way, but at least the option is there.

Secondly, any supply and demand argument refutes the argument that because nice plays happen in basketball more often it makes them more beautiful. Everyone knows that remarkable plays are memorable because they DON'T happen everyday.

Thirdly, and something you did not account for, is the size of the playing surface. Basketball courts are tiny compared to the vast pasture of a soccer pitch. More space means more isolation which means more one-on-ones, which means more opportunity for tricks and creativity. Also, because in soccer the ball does not necessarily have to be played directly to a teammate (it can be played ahead, behind, or even over one and still be a good pass) there is less stringency and, again, more creativity.

For example, although Jason Williams throws nasty alley oops and great lead passes, he can't ever play this ball because there's not enough space on the court. And even if he did, then his teammate goes to the basket and draws one of those SAD WEAK SORRY GARBAGE fouls that leads me to--

Fourthly, soccer goals (excluding free kicks) and beautiful plays occur in full flowing beauty, with the accompanying momentum, whereas basketball plays occur either in a halted half-court set or in a fast break. If its in a half-court set at least half the players aren't even moving and there's a whole bunch of nothing going on before the beautiful play. If it's in a fast break it lasts all of 3 seconds (and then there's a foul). Soccer beautiful plays happen all over the place at any given time, not necessarily at goal--they could even happen in defense...

Fifthly, basketball players are too big and fat to move in a manner that is even socially appropriate, let alone aesthetically pleasing. Look at Yao Ming, that guy is underwater. Compare that to tiny Maradona, whose teensy size gives him amazing balance and speed.

Lastly, I leave you loyal spectators with a video of soccer's And1 star (whose name I can't find). This cat is unbelievable. Forgive the music.

I guess, though, that we should leave the official results to the readers: who gets the nod? Soccer or Bball?