Why I love sports: Subtlety

Feb 06, 2014 •

I’m not sure this can be called “reviving a series” if I only ever posted one. But since its been over six months since I posted that, this is my attempt at revival.

Even the most ardent non-sports fan knows its the big flashy plays that capture our attention. The slam dunk in basketball, the long touchdown reception in football, or the puck flying past the goalie in hockey. ESPN has built an empire on sharing those plays with us in condensed form every night. They have even capitalized on the shortest form of communication available today - the hashtag - with #SCTop10. Its not their fault of course, they’re simply leveraging the short attention span that is so prevalent in today’s culture.

While I enjoy these plays as much as the next fan1 what I really love about sports is when you are watching closely enough to see the subtle play that happened before the flashy one. The subtle but convincing shoulder and head fake that the wide receiver used to get the cornerback to turn his hips the wrong way, leaving him out of position and unable to make a play on the pass. The ball fake accompanied by a player lifting his pivot foot almost off the floor which puts the defender so far out of position that theres an easy step-through and dunk. Or the hockey player who holds onto the puck for a brief second longer than the defender expects, while simultaneously shifting his weight so that he rotates around the puck putting himself in a perfect position to send a pass through the newly vacated passing lane.

These are the plays that never make SportsCenter except as throw away lead-ins to the actual highlight, but these are the plays that make me want to watch 162 baseball games, 82 basketball and hockey games, and 16 football games. I can see the highlight reel plays on the highlight reel…

  1. Assuming of course that its MY team, or at least not AGAINST my team.