Spacetime Malleability

I played a great deal of soccer when I was young. In fact, it was the first organized sport I ever played after joining a team as a four year-old.

As with all youth soccer, my formative years in the sport consisted of a great deal of kick-and-chase, as we moved the ball down the field in a linear fashion, always in a forward vector. When we lost the ball, the opposing team attempted to do likewise. I remember my utter surprise when, for the first time, I saw professional soccer teams on television kick the ball backwards as an active course of strategy. This blew my mind: I didn't know you could do that … or at least I had never thought of it.

The point? There are very few sports where we see this characteristic. The system of downs in gridiron football discourages this, as does the midcourt line in basketball. In baseball and in any form of racing, it is obviously nonexistent. It is considered a radical strategy in golf, only to be used in extreme circumstances. Hockey is the only sport that immediately comes to mind in which we see this take place.

It is the conversion of excess space into scarce time. It demands a more nuanced view of strategy, rather than the linear, advance-at-all-costs mentality seen in the most popular American sports.


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