The Subversion of Score

One of the central tenets of modern sport that is challenged by Global Village Basketball is the role of score as an objective arbiter of Truth. Though the intent of sportified games is to use score as an objective measure of who was "better" in a particular event, in reality, this is not the case. Think of the disconnect a fan feels when watching a team that is clearly superior on that day lose a game due to a couple of fluke plays. Yes, it's "true" that the higher scoring team was "better", but…

When this role of score is combined with the role of statistics in manufacturing and sustaining a star system discourse, the seeds are sown for the creation of cyborg athletes — part uncertainty-creating human, part information-generating machine. If we are to avoid this posthuman future (and it is by no means clear that we wish to), then the role of score and statistics as signs must take on different meanings (signifieds).

Top scoreboard graphic courtesy ESPN.com

Fig. 2. Conceptual diagram of modified scoreboard architecture.

Global Village Basketball attempts to subvert these traditional signifier/signifieds through the construction of the cooperative metagame. By combining the scores of individual games into one metagame, as seen in Figure 2, the notion of score is rendered absurd. What does it mean to be losing by 2,000 points in a basketball game? Is that a close game or a blowout? And given the social purposes for hosting the game, does it really even matter?

Statistics of relevance change as well. If an individual scores 6 points during their shift in the game, what exactly does that mean in the context of the metagame's 49,313 points?

Piss-all, is what.

Yet at the same time, the 49,313 points would never have been achieved without each of those 6- or 8-point contributions around the world. The signified is that any individual is simultaneously trivial and part of something greater — both local and global at the same time.

In this model is a microcosm of other local-global constructs, such as the world financial markets, climate change, or the infrastructure of the Internet itself. As pointed out earlier, the medium is the message, and hopefully the message of an integrated local-global is crystal clear after playing in the Global Village Basketball game.

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