Saturday, 23 April 2011

The progress of HUFC and Physics

If it was possible to pit the 2011 Hartlepool United Football Team against the 1950's England team, Hartlepool would piss all over them.

It's not that I have a great faith in the ability of today's HUFC (I couldn't name a single player) but I that I have a great belief in the progress of science.  Even sports science.

Science progresses through the acquisition of knowledge.  Trying different things (experimenting)  and documenting the results until you find what works.  It all adds to the pool of knowledge which will support or refute the currently held theory or principal.  The theories that hold the most weight (e.g. Not getting drunk the night before a big game) have the most supporting evidence and would therefore need a lot of negative evidence to repudiate.  Today's athletes have the benefit of 60 years of progress in nutrition, callisthenics, medicine and tactics.  All of which can use the scientific method to improve their results.  Even if those taking part don't realise it.

There may be some crack pots who think having a couple of shots of tequila before the game will enhance the players focus.  They could claim that this is an entirely valid theory and it should at least be given fair chance at school, and any sports lecturer would be remiss not to teach this controversy.

Or there may be a manager who thinks having each of his players say a prayer before each game makes them play better.  He may think this is due to divine providence and he insists that every club he works for follows this practice.  But someone else notices that it doesn't always work and some of the Muslim or Atheist players don't do it and they still win.  Instead he notices that following the same routine before a game gets the players in the right frame of mind and eases their nerves.

Students are taught the currently supported theories based upon the largest amount of evidence which the students will absorb and build upon.  They may find holes in the evidence or think of a better way of performing the experiment.  They may eventually over turn the tide of evidence and change the paradigm.

Dutch Total Football, Sweeper Systems, Zonal Defence and a flat back four are all experiments in trying to find a winning solution.  The times they have worked and the times they have failed was dependent upon the other factors.  The incorporation of those factors into the equation leads to a deeper truth.

The limitations of experimentation is where you find the current edge of science.  In physics you need to build a bigger and better particle accelerator, in football you need a bigger squad.  And in both cases it doesn't matter who the individual is, Alex Ferguson or Albert Einstein; if your theory is wrong and isn't backed by results then you're going to get relegated.

No comments:

Post a Comment