Eddy Curry, Unions and DNA Tests

"The socio-technological study of the mechanisms of control, grasped at their inception, would have to be categorical and to describe what is already in the process of substitution for the disciplinary sites of enclosure, whose crisis is everywhere proclaimed," Deleuze exhorts.

"One of the most important questions will concern the ineptitude of the unions: tied to the whole of their history of struggle against the disciplines or within the spaces of enclosure, will they be able to adapt themselves or will they give way to new forms of resistance against the societies of control?"

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It appears that the sports world is about to get an early answer to that question.

Eddy Curry, an NBA free agent who played most recently for the Chicago Bulls, is being asked by the club to undergo a DNA test so that it may determine if he is genetically predisposed to cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that could prove fatal when combined with his recently diagnosed cardiac arrhythmia. NBA Commissioner David Stern supports the request in principle.

Sports Law Blog provides a backgrounder and follow-up on the issue. And for more information on the topic, I will point to Dr. Andy Miah's Bioethics and Sport blog, and in particular a post about genetic testing in the Australian Football League.

The Turk

A reminder to myself: before the advent of Deep Blue and the leveraging of chess code, there was The Turk, purportedly a chess-playing automaton, but in fact a clever hoax.

The Standing-Reserve

Baudrillard: "Snow is no longer a gift from on high. It falls precisely at those places designated as winter resorts."

Or perhaps downtown San Francisco? As our technologies increasingly divorce us from nature, tons of man-made snow are trucked onto Fillmore Street for the Icer Big Air snowboarding competition.


Courtesy of ESPNCourtesy of ESPN

The logic of post-industrial capitalism (or, "I swear you can't make this stuff up")

On the front page of ESPN.com the other day, a Flash advertisement for Viagra's sponsorship of the MLB "Comeback Player of the Year Award" (groan…) rolled back to reveal the headline story: Rafael Palmeiro, the priapismic one himself, ratting out teammates for giving him a supplement that ultimately caused him to test positive for steroids.


ESPN's Skip Bayless: "Soccer permanently contaminated football."

As much as I think Bayless is an atrocious attention-seeker, it's an interesting perspective when put in the context of the historical evolution of folk football. Basically, at one point a bunch of people decided the game would be played predominantly with the hands, while others decided it would be played predominantly with the feet. From then on, the various strands of the game developed: association football (soccer), gridiron football, Aussie rules football, rugby, Gaelic football, etc. I'll borrow from biology the term cladogenesis to describe this evolutionary break-point.

The idea that one strand of the newly mutated game could return, post-cladogenesis, and infect or "contaminate" another seems to strengthen the link between biological and communications processes.

Highlight Reel: Informatics of Domination

After posting Haraway's thought framework from "A Cyborg Manifesto," I wanted to jot down a few notes as to how I see her interpretation of these "scary new networks" overlapping or meshing with what I have developed here at sportsBabel.

Labor ›› Robotics

When Haraway discusses a shift from labor to robotics (elsewhere in the essay she says that "microelectronics mediates the translations of labour into robotics and word processing"), is the sportocratic equivalent not Rasheed Wallace and his perfectly-assembled soundbite — "Both teams played hard." — which the typing classes then turn into content? Wallace's perfect quality control gives truth to the lie about the nature of professional athletes, who are in fact I3-producing techno-bodies.

Physiology ›› Communications engineering

Gatorade changes from a drink that will provide fatigued athletes with fluid and electrolytes to a circulating image-sign indicating superior athletic performance available as consumptive possibility.

Representation ›› Simulation

Can something be represented that has never taken place? This is the situation in which sport finds itself once we begin to introduce motion capture into movies and videogames. The recombinant nature of fantasy gaming is another postmodern take on the sporting text, the "anterior finality" (cf. Baudrillard) of simulation that irrevocably shapes both product and producer.

Perfection (Heat) ›› Optimization (Noise)

Haraway could be speaking specifically about sabermetrics with these points. Rather than diatribe myself, I will resample a talk from Paul DePodesta, GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers, that I posted earlier:

I was on a quest to find relevant relationships. Usually it wasn't as simple as "if X then Y." I was looking for probabilistic relationships. … We may not always be right but we'd be right a lot more often than we'd be wrong. In baseball, if you win about 60% of your games, you're probably in the playoffs.

One of the other problems is that the traditional metrics and stats used in baseball are muddied with so much noise that just didn't matter that I was having a tough time distilling all the information.

Biology as clinical practice ›› Biology as inscription

Though obsolesced, the administrative numeration found on the extended skin of the sports uniform, which finds its contemporary manifestation in the jersey number tattoo, foreshadows the inscription on the body of DNA recombination and other communications/biotechnological practices.