Thursday, August 11, 2011

Which Sport is Best?

Power versus power, every play a struggle.  I'm not sure where the ball
is but I'm sure the Outlaws are on offense because I recognize Lily in
the middle.  It looks like #59 thinks Lily is a runner and is tackling her.
I think that's against the rules.
My coach used to tell us "fight pressure."  If they want me to go left, I want to go right. If they push, I push back.  Harder.  Football is a battle.  Speed against speed.   Strength against strength.  Mano-a-mano or womano-a-womano.  Every play involves every player.  Battling.

Compare that with baseball.  Baseball is all individual effort.  Except for the occasional collision at the plate where a runner tries to jar the ball out of the catcher's hand, there is no player physically blocking or tackling another to interfere with his making the play.  Baseball is a soft sport.  Baseball teams can play five days a week if it doesn't rain. 

Football is a hard sport.  Played regardless of weather, rain or snow or sleet or dark of night... well not in the dark.  Football is like hockey.  I get tired just watching a hockey game with all the hitting and one-on-one battles.  Or rugby.  I don't understand rugby.  We have rugby teams in Austin and someday I'm going to a game with my camera. 

Baseball is a soft sport.  There are other soft sports.  Golf.  Tennis.  You do your thing and no one is going to attack you, knock you down, throw a shoulder into your middle.  Not even make noise to distract you.  Golfers get downright nasty when a camera shutter clicks while the pro is addressing a shot.  Tiger Woods' caddy, Steve Williams, (well former caddy) once charged into the gallery to beat up a photographer for distracting the great one. 

These older guys haven't forgotten how to hit the ball.
In Austin we have a senior softball league or two.  Old guys like me out reliving their glory days - in my case there weren't glory days.  (My brother teased that it is better to be a has-been than a never-was.)  These guys are in their 60s and 70s and even 80s and they're out there in the Austin sun swinging bats, and hitting the ball.

They play slow pitch.  Lobing the ball rather than firing it across the plate. 

Slow pitch, lobbing the ball toward the plate.
They're competitive but they're having fun.  If one team doesn't have a full roster, the other team will donate players.  

They play all out, swinging hard, running hard.  There are lots of knee-braces and some gray hair and bodies not as trim as they once were. 
If you watch closely you'll see there are some former athletes who are just a step or two slower than in the old days. 

Seniors play softball.  Seniors play tennis.  Seniors play golf. 

Seniors do not play football.  Rugby.  Hockey. 

I've decided to characterize sports in two categories, those seniors play and those seniors don't play.  Softer, gentler sports versus harder, rougher sports.  I thoroughly enjoyed hanging around with the senior softball players and I admire their competitive spirit.  But for my money the real sports, the best sports are the ones with hitting.  Nose-to-nose down and dirty. 

A television commentator said baseball requires the greatest athletes.  Because hitting a pitched ball is the most difficult achievement in all of sport. And because catching a batted ball is the second most difficult.  You can tell this commentator was a color guy for baseball games. 

What if catching the ball involved fighting off a defender who also wants to catch it?  Individual skill sports are fine and I don't question the athletic ability of the players.  But for my money, the real sports are the ones where you actually collide with the opponent.

The deep shortstop is Tony, a serious athlete and talented.  I'm betting the throw beats the runner.
Note all the knee braces.  These guys love the game enough to play over pain.  But this isn't
the kind of pain that comes with football.

Speaking of football, pre-season games start tonight! Yes!

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