Thursday, June 14, 2012

Neat or Messy?

The preacher was Max Anders.  He was making a point at Grace Covenant Church in Austin.  Max was drawing a contrast between himself and his wife.  I don't remember the words he used to describe himself but the point was he isn't very neat.  In contrast to his being messy, he said his  wife is... "Tidy". 

That's a word I've never used in normal conversation:  Tidy.  Tidy as in neat, orderly,

Finally, all these years later, I have a reason to use the word.  In a blog about football.  Are you ready?

If I were coaching a football team (bad idea) and I had a lot of new players, I'd ask each if she is tidy or not tidy.  How much does "tidy" describe you?  And that's how I'd decide whether to play that player on offense or defense.    Tidy?  Offense.  Not so much?  Defense. 

Many years ago I read an article by a sportswriter who observed the lockers of professional football players. He noticed some lockers were tidy, some messy. He sought a pattern and discovered that players on offense tend to be tidy; players on defense not so much.  So that would be my guiding light.  Tidy, offense; messy, defense.

It makes sense, doesn't it?  The role of the defense is to mess things up. 

The offense has a plan, a play in mind.  They're working from a playbook.  As in the diagram printed here, borrowed from a free website. Offense players are represented by "O"s; Defense by "X"s.  See the plan, each offensive player has an assignment to handle a particular defensive player.  Neat.  Orderly.  Tidy.  Everyone accounted for. 

The defense has a plan, too.  Spoil the offense plan.  Mess everything up.  Offense loves tidy; defense loves messy.  In the locker room or on the field.

In the game everyone lines up and everything looks all neat and orderly.  The center snaps the ball to the quarterback.  The quarterback hands it to the running back.  The "O"s start blocking the "X"s...

Cookie  handing off to #47 Lisa Holewyne. 

What a mess.
...then the defense messes it all up.  People who were supposed to get out of the way refuse.  Instead they all crowd in. Creating a big disorderly mess.  In the second photo all the order is gone.  You can't even see running back Lisa Holewyne unless you study very carefully.  She is holding the ball in her left arm, which is over the back of Rubi Reyna, who is being tackled by one of the Dallas Diamonds while another Diamond is grabbing Lisa's arm.  If you're a player on offense, this photo makes you uncomfortable.  It is messy.  If you're a player on defense, you're smiling.

As I contemplated this profound concept, I browsed my photos for examples.  As I am wont to do, I started noticing photos that maybe don't exactly match my message but did make me smile just a little. 

Defense messing things up and not very tidy in doing it.
Like this photo.  The Dallas Diamonds are on defense.  Sometimes the camera catches players in an awkward position.  Number 47.  If she were on offense she'd hate this photo.  But she plays D and she is enjoying wreaking havoc on a hapless running back.  Messy.  Not tidy.

I like the photo below for a couple reasons.  In this the Outlaws are on defense.  I like that they're doing good.  And I like that the photo does illustrate my point.  About not tidy.  Note how the offense players are all lined up in a neat row defining a line the Outlaws are not allowed to cross.  Just like in the diagram in their playbook.  But, wait!  The Outlaws #33, Tara Andrickson, isn't respecting the line.  She is behind it.  As is another Outlaw at the left.  And yet another low at the right.  Messing up the Dallas tidy little plan.  Yes!!!
At least three Outlaws messing up the Dallas plan.

Hmmm.  Where to go?
I'm including this photo (right) even though it doesn't advance my point at all.  Well, maybe.  I'm sure the Outlaws playbook doesn't show #34 Adriene Futrell taking on three tacklers all by herself.  So we know the defense is messing things up yet again.  I sometime like photos like this because of the feeling of suspense.  Something bad is about to happen.  Or will she elude the tacklers? 

If you see Ereka, please ask her to tell us about this play.  I don't think that's how it was
designed in the playbook.
Unlike the anticipation in the last photo, there is something happening in this one.  I just don't know what.  The runner - er, flier - is Ereka Howard.  She was one of my favorite subjects when I was shooting the Outlaws in practice, before they put on helmets.  I consistently caught her wonderful facial expressions. 

I asked Ereka about this play.  Was she jumping?  Or was the tackler picking her up?  Was she catching a pass?  Or what?  She didn't reply to my email so we're left to wonder.  Not a tidy way to end a post on tidiness.

Okay, then I won't end it with that photo. 

Instead how about a survey.  At the bottom of each blog post is an opportunity for you to comment.  I'd be interested in comments, especially from players or from people who know some players, about whether there really is a correlation between tidy and offense, messy and defense.   So if  you're a player, do you play on offense or defense?  And are you tidy or not so much? 

You don't have to include your name.

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