Subject: Steroid Bowl result
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: Jan 30, 1996

Armed with a remote control and a stopwatch, I watched the Steroid Bowl. Some
statistical analysis follows.

At the optimal rate, there are five seconds of action for every 25 seconds of
pauses. The tv broadcast filled these pauses with such things as a cartoon
demonstrating that the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys weighed about 350
pounds/head. There were several closeups of some very fat stomachs, which
protruded beyond the several pounds of plastic shielding scattered throughout
the fat bodies. There were no cartoons detailing steroid usage, or other
"weight-adding" techniques; there were no cartoons detailing the chronic
injuries associated with pads and helmets; there were no cartoons detailing
the amount of money that was paid by corporations to emblazon their logo
across our screens at a frequent rate; there were no cartoons detailing the
casting process for the Cowboy cheerleaders, or their share of the commercial
revenues generated when they were used as a backdrop to the on-air commercials
(those are the ones where "Dick" tells us that the broadcast is brought to us
courtesy of XYZ Corporation).

At the non-optimal rate, there were 45 seconds of action between 360 seconds
of commercials and 75 seconds of pauses. This rate was achieved whenever the
Cowboys scored some points, as follows: 

After Cowboys score on some play (e.g. a field goal, where the kicker is
supposed to hoof the ball *over* the bar), 2 minutes of commercials. Cowboys
kick off; 10 seconds of action, then 2 minutes of commercials. Steelers get
the ball on first down, on second down, on third down; for each such instance,
5 seconds of action and 25 seconds of pause (during which the clock is usually
running). On fourth down they punt, which takes 10 seconds of action. Then 2
minutes of commercials, bringing us back to where the Cowboys have the ball.

There were other forms of interruption, such as between quarters (adding two
2-minute commercial interruptions to the game), time-outs, penalties, and of
course injuries.

The final score was Dallas 27 Pittsburgh 17. Pittsburgh would have won, but
their overpaid white guy kept throwing the ball to an opponent (#24) that
seemed to be doing nothing other than wasting his time in the left corner of
the defensive formation. One can only surmise that the excessive linearity of
the sport had finally gotten to the Pittsburgh ball thrower, and he'd been
reduced to automatically throwing the ball in a certain direction when words
like "xyz 86 flare-out" were relayed to him by the substitute-of-the-play; he
seemed unable to check this automation effect when the circumstances on the
field warranted different behavior.

In an excellent display of "stats matter more than understanding what's going
on", #24 was given the game ball by the television broadcasting authorities
for basically being so out of position on two plays that the opposing
ball-thrower did not see him.

One of the more amusing incidents began when one of the commentators started
shouting hysterically

"They're going to a no-huddle offense! They're going to a no-huddle offense!"

which indicates a portion of the game where we cut down on the usual 25 second
pause between the 5 seconds of action, and force the steroid-laden players to
play for two consecutive periods of 5 seconds of action each . It seems that
this is a very unusual and demanding effort, and the Cowboys were immediately
forced to call a time-out because they were unprepared and only had nine
players on the field. Incidentally, one of the more puzzling rules of american
football is that you are penalized five yards if you do not have eleven
players on the field--one would think that having fewer than the number
allowed would be punishment enough by itself, so I suspect that the rule is
there to further the linearization of the players, coaches, and officials.

Finally, I forgot to count the number of times that the ball was actually
struck by a foot; there were 16 such occurrences due to scoring, 2 such
occurrences due to starting the game and halftime resumption, and an
unspecified number of punts (these are the ones I forgot to write down). One
did get the impression however that most of the players would be unable to
survive a simple rule change that allowed the classic plancha to the shins 
as a tackling technique--in particular, the ones with the big bellies.

Subject: Re: Steroid Bowl result
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: Feb 4, 1996

freakboy@guppy.owlnet.rice.edu (Shashi Suresh Malkani) wrote:

>mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli) writes:
>|>[brilliant analysis]
> A couple of years ago, I used to be a regular r.s.s. reader.  But it soon got
> to a point where there were way too many irrelevant postings.  I guess by
> posting this I am guilty of the same crime.  

Naturally, that is not the sort of consideration that will cause you to alter
your behaviour.

Let me confess, however, that I reply to this post with some concern that 
its odor will not wash off so easily after I am done with it. For example, 
all those that replied to wannabe@forge.post.edu in another thread here 
really oughta know better. Ahem. So if y'all can reply to that, do not 
complain if I reply to this.

> Anyway, it was interesting to see that Ariel is still at it after all 
> these years (and probably will be even when the current batch of rss 
> readers have moved on).

Let me guess, you were one of those that liked to followup with a complete
requote and a single "I agree" attached with your .sig at the bottom.

> Ariel, maybe it's time you stopped posting crap like this.  

Here, trollboy, here...

> You accuse Americans of not understanding the game; of hating it.  Yet 
> you display a similar ignorance and prejudice when it comes to American 
> Football.

You say that I accuse Americans of not understanding which game: rugby, go,
basketball, checkers, ice hockey, chess, spinthebottle, futbol, american
football, which...  All that my post dealt with was the death of a game
called american football, which I first learned how to play in the 70's
(noseguard in a local youth team and enjoyed using the forearm shiver).

The most depressing thing is that you've been on the net for a million years
(or so you claim), and you still have not learned to read a post, stay on
topic, follow up within 72 hours, or proper editing in said followup. Rather
than make any specific reply, you make a broad ad hominem argument, claiming
to be someone that knows what he's talking about.

Actually it was your editing that was really annoying. You did not want to
quote anything from the original post, but you did include several irrelevant
blank lines. If these are the oldbies, what can we expect from the newbies?

It is at moments like this one that I remember an old observation: give
thoughtful people time and information, and they will grow wisdom; give idiots
the same thing, and they will grow idiocy. Please, no flames about my being
unfair to idiots.

btw the intelligence of certain individuals associated with that youth team,
eg the head coach, left something to be desired...  I recall one practice
session where I swerved deftly to avoid getting hit by a teammate when we were
clearly out of the play; the coach made it clear that I was a bad player for
that, and that I clearly "did not like to get hit". Well, no shit sherlock, of
course I don't like to get hit. We were also encouraged to use our heads when
making tackles, but not allowed to use our feet. Yes, there is room for
improvement there...

As for "prejudice", that was why I used a stopwatch. My "prejudice" is that
commercial interruption of the game is nauseating; my stopwatch was there to
make sure that I got the numbers down correctly, and only then proceed to make
some judgement. The numbers were so obvious, however--45 seconds of action vs.
360 seconds of commercials + 75 seconds of interruptions)--that I never felt
the need to make any judgement on them. Ironically, when you took my statement
of fact and branded it as "prejudice", you betrayed your acknowledgement. This
is consistent with the posture assumed in your reply--supine and lubricated.

Now I do have the prejudice that if you took any of the fat Cowboys--in fact,
anybody except Smith or Sanders--and you put him with all his pads against
Ruggeri, and Ruggeri could use the plancha, you would have a lot of crippled
cowboys. Ruggeri is not particularly exceptional, either... the English
league, for example, is well supplied with 'hard men' that would give the
donut boyz a few x-ray appointments--among them I would select a guy named
Batty, or another one called Vinnie.

In fact, the more I think of this the more I like it. With the following
lineup, you would destroy any team in the NFL: Kohler, Bergomi, Andre,
Ruggeri, Chilavert, Ronald Koeman, Couto, Lalas, Kanapkis, and Nigeria's 94
world cup team as the rest. The x-ray machine would be off like a neutron bomb
after that game.

> As a fan of both sports, I have to tell all the Americans reading this that,
> this sort of behavior is not reflective of all soccer fans.  It's merely the
> opinion of one narrow-minded individual. 

Here's a napkin, wipe that brown spot on your schnoz will ya? Now, I'm sure
all of us Americans are very grateful to you--specially the ones that don't
know what the word "soccer" means (ob big fat clue: say "futbol" or "futebol"
instead). However, I must temper my gratitude with a nod towards the sentence
you wrote above, the one about "irrelevant postings".

As far as my "behavior is not reflective of all soccer fans", since most
futbol fans could not care enough to turn on the television and analyze the
Steroid Bowl (c), you are of course correct. It is an inane tautology, but you
are correct nonetheless.

Subject: Re: Steroid Bowl result
From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Date: Feb 5, 1996

D.W.Shepherd@bradford.ac.uk (Dave Shepherd) wrote:

>  "Ariel Mazzarelli (mazzare@primenet.com)",  you are very naive.

Gee I wish I knew who you are, so I could know how to take this.

>  It's one of a few very old chestnuts, all of which have been 
>  discreditted long ago, to postulate that "how good" a sport is
>  is a function of 
>   Either
>       'percentage time when the ball is live'
>   Or
>       'how fast the action is'
>   Or
>       'how much scoring there is'

How about that old chestnut about learning how to use an editor so that stuff
like what you wrote above takes 4 lines instead of 9?

Of course I'd settle for the other old chestnut about learning how to read and
comprehend. Let me restate the central observation garnered from the latest
edition of the Steroid Bowl: you are forced to watch 360 seconds of commercial
propaganda, in between which you are given 45 seconds of action, and 75
seconds of interruptions where the players have to be told exactly where to
stand, exactly what to do, etc. Spontaneity, continuity, and imagination take
a terrible beating in such a setting. Lots of pads, steroids, and tackling
techniques using the head and not the feet... altogether, not the stuff of
higher life forms, it is downright pavlovian.

>  In fact if you take your stopwatch and time a 'soccer' match, 
>  you'll find it's "live ball" percentage is as low as 65% anyway.

I suppose that says something about the Steroid Bowl (c)? After all, that was
the sole subject of my post.

However, since you claimed to be a fan of both sports, let me tell you a
little experiment I carried out a couple of years ago. I set up two
televisions side by side, because I wanted to watch the NFC finals between the
49ers and the Cowboys, as well as a friendly between two teams that I have
completely forgotten about (USA-Norway perhaps). I would watch the NFL channel
when there was a play going on, and the futbol during the remainder. I ended
up watching the futbol exclusively, because the NFL game was nothing but
commercials, replays, huddles, halftimes, flags, and occasionally, a play. The
funny thing was that my predisposition was to watch the NFL game; the futbol
was only there as backup.

Perhaps now your neurons will reach critical connectivity and you will reread
your 65% quote above with a wince? Thanks.

>  The 'dullest' sport in the world is the Olympic 100m.. 10 seconds
>  of action in hours of hype.. yet it always gains the biggest
>  worldwide audience.. Care to explain?

If I wanted to explain this, I'd need to read a few texts on neurophysiology.

The event you mention determines the world's fastest man and woman, it is
unpredictable, tense, and beautiful action. The hours of hype are completely
played out in 10 seconds, but you'd be a fool to watch all that hype. If you
want to compare something to the 100 meter dash, try a sword duel between two
samurai, but not the Steroid Bowl.

And whatever you do, stop watching hype and commercials. It is bad for you.