Thursday, October 09, 2008

The A-11 Offense, or, Brawn Hates Brains.

I've mentioned before how much I like it when some players find new ways to play(/distort/damage) their game.

In that vein, Freakonomics mentions a football offense that allows every player to be a receiver. This is apparently mind blowing to football fans, but to me it just sounds like another casualty of innovation. A few coaches came up with a good idea, a hack on their sport, perhaps exploiting the overlooked contours of the scrimmage kick formation, and 10 states immediately ban it for being too effective. What's next, leg weights for fast runners? The one arm tied behind your back rule for strong guys?

Nah, that wouldn't make sense, because speed and strength are valued in our culture, just not intelligence. 

Exhibit A →

Outsiders could easily get the impression that football fans are constantly complaining that cleverness is unsportsmanlike. (The last link is my favorite, the opposing coach was furious.)

More broadly, every cultural history is filled with examples, myths and allegories dwelling on the cowardly nature of innovation.

Is it dangerous to perpetuate our ancient drives to prize raw physical prowess over thinking things through?