Unwritten Rules

A while ago, a baseball player coworker and I had a conversation about the unwritten rules of baseball. These are expected sportsmanship behaviors. When players are perceived to violate these moral guidelines, the other team may result in retaliation. Teams can end up in brawls on the field over the escalations started by someone violating an unwritten rule.

Apparently I left the impression that baseball is the only sport with unwritten rules. He sent me the unwritten rules of the gym.

Soccer has them too. In futbol (soccer),

  1. If a player is injured, then the other team should put the ball out of play or give the ball back to the team with the injured player when it restarts.
  2. Players who score against a former team return to the center circle to restart without celebrating.
  3. Offer a hand to help an opponent stand up.

There are unwritten rules everywhere. And we are expected to abide by these social conventions or we are jerks who deserve to be snubbed or attacked for failing to be a decent person. This like…

  1. Let others out of an elevator or train before you get in.
  2. Leave a one urinal buffer zone.
  3. Texting in the presence of company.

The problem I have with unwritten rules is the passive-aggressive escalation and retaliation aspect. Rules exist to set the expectations of behavior. Writing them down ensures everyone knows what are the expectations of behavior. The authorities (referee, police, HR) can punish people for failing to abide by them. Leaving them unwritten just means one party can take advantage and the aggrieved party breaking written rules in retaliation to feel even more upset they got unjustly punished.

1996 Olympics

445289440_4d226f2576Twenty years ago I was able to watch some soccer Olympic events in person. We watched the first women’s tournament where the US played Sweden. And Nigeria (who eventually won) play Japan. These were all at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. It made me happy two teams we watched went on to win both the men’s and women’s tournaments.

Also, we drove from Orlando to Atlanta and back. While in Atlanta we watched some Judo and volleyball.

Hands on Their Hips

Over the past couple months during football or football[1] games, I noticed announcers refer to defensive players already having hands on their hips. They mean the defensive players are already tired and out of breath, so breathing more heavily than they should. Also, the players are ready to be broken by the offensive players.

So, I was curious. Is this a universal behavior? The lazy person that I am, instead of running a bunch and seeing whether or not I did it over and over, I queried Google. An interesting answer to, “When we get out of breath, why do we put our hands on our hips?” kind of made sense:

When you do so, it takes the weight of your arms off your lungs, which allows them to get more air into them and increase the oxygen to your body.

[1] For United States readers: soccer or American Football.

Red Uniform Effect

While watching the NFL draft the other day, a woman at the bar lamented about how highlights for players from all over the SEC displayed their prowess against the local university. I explained Red Dress Effect to her and the bartender. Obviously these football players were not women in red dresses.

Red can draw attention. So maybe if someone is going through a bunch of highlights to pick just one, the one with the bright red team could be selected over others. To really know, someone would need to go through the draft highlights and identify all the opposing teams in all the clips. Then compare the prominent color of shirts verses the predominance of the color. Next would be to experiment by having people select clips and see whether they pick red jerseyed players getting beaten over others.

Probably what would be found is no significant difference in red being selected over other colors. This would be consistent with red cars not really getting significant more speeding tickets than other cars.

Oh… And her complaint could be just confirmation bias. If she believed people do not respect her university’s football team, then any time they were portrayed in a negative light would confirm for her this belief.

American Chinese

Chicago Cubs Logo
Chicago Cubs Logo
Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
Chicago Bears logo
Chicago Bears logo

From a logo design perspective, the United States should adopt Chinese. For logos that are the first letter of the entity, the designer has to do something special to distinguish it from all the others using the same letter. This came to me watching a rapper in a video wearing a baseball cap with a “C” on it. At first, I thought Chicago Cubs, but then I recalled their logo is a very simple “C” and did not have the wishbone at the left. Running through baseball cities in my head, I realized it was a Cincinnati Reds logo as it was a red cap with a white letter. After some Googling, I see I might have been thrown off by another Chicago team, the Bears. Their logo is the same C I saw but in red rather than on red.

Atlanta Braves Logo
Atlanta Braves Logo
University of Alabama Athletic Logo
University of Alabama Athletic Logo

I have the same trouble with the Atlanta Braves and University of Alabama. As local people are often fans of either, I more frequently see them. And fail to correctly identify them. (Though probably I should have gone with Green Bay and UGA.)

Logo confusion is bad enough for a designer. Logo confusion for other sports teams seems like a budding trademark war. The whole point of a logo is to be distinctive and recognizable. There is only so much one can do with a letter. The English alphabet only has 26 letters. Too much modification takes away the form of the letter until it no longer represents an acronym of the name.

A solution to too few letters could be for the United States to adopt Chinese. With over 6,000 characters, there are plenty more from which to choose. I cannot see that really happening any time soon, especially for this reason.

The look on some people’s faces for suggesting it could be entertaining.

An All Year Sport

TBS - Soccer Some of my sports fan friends are a single game fan.When the season is over, they have nothing else about which to talk until recruits are chosen for the next. Over the past week, I saw a couple countdowns for certain baseball players to report to spring training. Since October they waited for this. Football, basketball, and hockey do not cut it for them.

Something I like about soccer, football elsewhere in the world, is there is something going on all year round. The two leagues I mainly follow are:

  • English Premier League starts mid August and ends mid May
  • Major League Soccer starts mid March and ends early December

Then there are the various special events like the World Cup, Champions League, Euro, CONCACAF, and FA Cup to name a few.

There is always something happening. No time to catch a breath.

Dream of a UGA Loss

In part I, I attended a Christmas party where others kept moving to different rooms of the house. They would move and only later would I notice I was alone.

In part II, walking home, there were cars everywhere. Some were even parked on top of houses. There was a crowd noise up ahead. It turned out to be a stadium where the SEC Championship game just ended. The UGA team had already left in defeat. The Volunteers continued to celebrate on the field by stomping on the logo in the center of the field. I thought it ought to be the LSU team and the helmets changed accordingly. Various UGA fans I knew were on the side of a hill (replacing the stands) in tears and would not talk to me.

In part III, my smartphone would not pull up the Market app. The goal was an app who looking at a camera image would place names above the heads of friends at the game. Specifically I wanted to find Shannon because I knew she would want to gloat about how badly UGA played.

Is Tiger Blinking?

Watching The Brain. In talking about Tiger Woods’ putt, they guess that he really has consciously removed all anxiety by entering “The Zone”. (Must be old.) The physical manifestation of this is supposed to be his lack of blinking.

Now that Tiger is not doing so well, does this mean he is blinking a lot when he misses his puts? Just a teeny bit tempted to watch him play just to verify. Okay, not really.

UPDATE: Brain Science Podcast on Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To.

Beautiful women should take up chess

This mention reminded me of a study where men experienced difficulties remembering the news when the speaker was a beautiful woman.

Beautiful women should take up chess. Anna Dreber, Christer Gerdes and Patrik Gransmark wrote a Stockholm University working paper in which they found that male chess players pursue riskier strategies when they’re facing attractive female opponents, even though the risk-taking didn’t improve their performance. Social Science Palooza | NYT

My experience is many women know and try to exploit this.

TV Schedules

It seems to me television programmers between college and professional football there would be at least 1,000 games per year which would provide the necessary data points for understanding how long these games typically last. Yet, consistently the games which start on time still run about an hour or more longer than the 3 hour time slots allocated. The programmers understand this enough to schedule the games four hours apart and schedule a post-game review in this period just in case it ends early. Just include that as part of the original “episode” since you include the same announcers in the pre-game.

The TV schedule should make it convenient to know what program is on when. Inaccuracy of the data leads to distrust. (Got a weird deja vu moment writing that.)

Mostly though this is about knowing what to schedule on my DVR. Soccer time slots generally are set for 2 or 2.5 hours so I typically extend them to 3 hours. A half hour or hour are available options. The only time I’ve been burned by this is an LA Galaxy game where there was a couple power outages. (American) Football consistently burns me.