Time-Axis Adjudication

instant replay

Instant replay in professional basketball illustrates the degree to which time-axis manipulation (ie. slow-motion) can distort a gesture and subsequently an adjudication of "intent". What happens as incidental contact through the intermingling of bodies during the course of play at extremely high speeds often appears in extremely slow motion and extremely brief duration of video clip as a deliberate attempt to strike the opponent — as far as the referee ruling is concerned. It is one thing to use instant replay review, in other words, and quite something else to use instant replay in concert with slow-motion capability: in the latter case the manipulation of time in reviewing the video archive thus becomes a manipulation of the juridical-political process.

Desperation Moves

onside

In certain modern team sports there are a number of what we may describe as normative, yet legal, "desperation moves" that the team losing a contest may attempt as time begins to run out — provided the deficit is reasonably surmountable. In hockey, for example, the losing team will pull the goaltender in favour of an extra attacking skater; in basketball, a team will foul deliberately in order to force the other team to immediately shoot free throws; in gridiron football, there is the onside kickoff, etc.

Strategically, we might abstract these three examples as follows: in hockey, given the particular status (and equipment) that characterizes the goaltender, the attempt is to create an asymmetry in the number of attacking skaters and put pressure in the opposing zone. In basketball, constrained as it is by a required player symmetry, the attempt is to dilate the temporal parameters of the game, "extending" it by rapidly fouling and hopefully trading off multiple 1-point shots for 2- or 3-point shots at the other end. Gridiron football is also constrained by symmetry, on the one hand, but does not have regular and rapid turnover of possession either, and thus its attempt with the onside kick is to overload a space — or more precisely, to swarm a proximity.

In each case we witness a malleable, plastic quality — stretching, contracting, spasming — that over enough contests will have a statistically significant ability to turn the tide of victory in the timespaces of zero-sum athletic enclosure.