Association

longex

Miami Heat

OKC Thunder
Tampa Bay Lightning

Vancouver Whitecaps
New York Islanders
Seattle Storm

Miami Hurricanes

San Jose Earthquakes
Colorado Avalanche

Phoenix Suns
Calgary Flames
Chicago Fire

cyborgs, plastic

VP

Breath. When we talk about cyborgs in professional sport, we never talk about the referees who carry whistles in their mouths the entire time to substitute signal for voice: a running-with-the-play, into an optical perception of an infraction and its corresponding sympathetic nervous system response, into a spasm of the lungs and a burst of air expelled through the prosthetic whistle.

SJ

Buffer. LeBron James reverse dunking or hitting a three is a factual event; everything else in the televised NBA game is a narrative event, with the referees being a soft gelatin that connects the two. There is an intermediate or fractal quality to this juridical-political-narrative apparatus, though: note the way that former referee Steve Javie is at the League's centralized replay centre in Seacaucus, NJ, providing a secondary and intermediate gelatin between the narrative event and the referees.

pulse, relay, switch

high five

The ways in volleyball and basketball that hand touches — high fives, low fives, fist bumps, etc. — maintain an energetic and affective flow throughout an athletic context, during play as well as during stoppages: congratulating, rewarding, acknowledging, affirming, but also dissipating sad passions, situational failures, and the like.

The difference between the two is largely structural: volleyball centralizes and ritualizes the hand touches, with all 6 players on the floor coming together after each point for a group exchange that appears quite indifferent to whether a point was scored or surrendered. In basketball, meanwhile, the hand touches are more distributed through the 5-player system as multiple haptic relays and switches, one player high-fiving another one here, another over there, and yet again; the energy staying on the move, diffuse, leaking into defensive transition opportunities and brief game stoppages as an occurrent "computational art" based on physical proximity, tempo, context, and event.

xenointelligence

Spurs ball movement

Spurs ball movement

if you want to see a xenointelligence with "affective computational" potential, watch 5 basketball players (or indeed an entire team) when they're in a state of flow with great ball movement.

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.