Friday, 2 October 2009

Day 2

Day 2 and we're already two players down; in your face Hannah and Andy!

In the spirit of competition and with the Olympics being decided I thought I'd dredge up an old arguament I remember having about why some sports were better than others. The basic theory was as follows:

In last place - sports played on your own against yourself
running, swimming, jumping (in fact most of the Olympics), darts, golf and the blogpocalypse. The problem with these sports is that there's no real need for anyone else to be there. You could hold the open over the course of a year with players turning up as and when, hitting a few holes and then heading off for a fine wine at the club house with whoever else turned up that day. If someone beats you at darts it's not because of team tactics or because his play disrupted your game, he just threw more accurately at the board than you did.

In even more last place - sports with arbitrarily decided winners
dancing, diving, to some extent boxing and come dine with me. These are also often done by yourself, though obviously boxing rises slightly above the rest by dint of the rule above. The problem with these sports is that watching them you think "ooh, that was quite impressive" about all of the competitors but have no sense of tension because at the level it's done it all feels pretty arbitrary. In fact this sport is only generally enjoyable when it goes so wrong you can laugh at the competitors a la australian serving raw potatoes on come dine with me.

Somewhat higher up - sports played on your own against your opponents
tennis, snooker, hitting a baseball and gladiatorial combat. Ahh, sports where you have to react to your opponents moves and where your actions can hinder your opponent. A far truer test of skill; you can't be a gladiator and expect to just repeatedly make the same high-points sword stroke.

Normally on a slightly lower level - sports played in teams against yourselves
rowing, relay races, tour de france (apparently) and scrapheap challenge. The team aspect certainly improves these over the basic "I will do as well as I can" sports, however the whole group is really let down by the tour de france which is really dull and the fact that the guy who crosses the finish gets all the glory (who here knows any of Lance Armstrong's team-mates?). Anyway these two lead neatly (and totaly obviously since the first level) to . . .

The best sports - played in teams against other teams, wooo
football, cricket, charades and medieval warfare. Playing with other people against a team of others trying to disrupt your play, the ultimate test of ability and skill. Here are contained the creme de la creme of the sporting world, except for chess which unfortunately got held up in the whole team issue. Never mind, exchange chess can still carry the torch.

Obviously there are some sports that try and sneak their way up the scale despite being rubbish; American Football - you're bigger than me and when you ran into me I fell over whoopdefrickingdo, F1 - technically a team sport but so so dull you're watching hoping for a life threatening collission and then when one does happen it turns out to have been faked anyway.

Conclusion (and the real purpose for this post) the X Factor is rubbish


TheTelf said...

Surely with things like golf, part of the competition is against the elements. Players competing half a year apart in totally different conditions can hardly be said to be fairly competing with one another.

To a lesser extent, this argument could be made for the effect of crowds, wind resistance etc. in athletics.

I'm interested about the difference between competing on your own vs. competing in a team. Why is competing as a team obviously so much better?

Agree with you on the chess = teh best sport, though.

James said...

That's mostly observational:

cricket > tennis
football > tennis
rubgy > tennis
exchange chess > tennis

however I think there is something more impressive about playing a sport well and with a team of other players than just playing it well by yourself. Playing with the team implies all sorts of co-ordination and understanding above a solo game.

True on golf, but assuming similar conditions there's really no reason for them all to be on the same course at once (sports-wise).