Field Theory by Hadyn Green

19

Dancing in the Dark

The Superbowl halftime show is the stuff of legend and satire. Back in 2004 I sat in the lounge of my humble Wellington flat watching Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake dance about.

Jose was outside having a smoke and Jules was in the kitchen getting a hotdog. So I was the only one who saw Janet Jackson's breast "accidentally" fall out of her top.

The shot was so quickly changed and the dead air that followed made me wonder if I had actually seen it. I texted Dom. He had changed the channel and also did not see it.

That infamous publicity stunt by Jackson meant that MTV was never again allowed to produce the half time show and since 2004 the artists have been "safe", old and sans-breasts (well maybe old man boobs): U2, The Rolling Stones; Tom Petty; Prince: and Paul McCartney.

This year's old man is Bruce Springsteen. What is interesting is that people really haven't let go of the breast sighting. Stuff's article goes so far as to call it "televised smut". It was hardly smut, Timberlake didn't even sing "Dick in a Box".

Of course Springsteen will be good, but I agree with MJD: it will be the best show ever if, and only if, he pulls Courtenay Cox out of the audience during Dancin' in the Dark.

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How do you stop your opponents from stopping you? You do something random.

Now, not all sport allows for this strategy. For example you cannot just throw your racquet at your opponent in tennis, as effective as that might be. But in the set-piece style game of American Football a type of offence called A-11 allows for thousands of random plays.

In a standard formation with five fixed linemen, a play can unfold with 36 different scenarios for who receives the snap and who ends up with the ball… In the A-11 offense, because the receivers and linemen (and even quarterbacks) are interchangeable, the number of different possibilities for what can happen on a given play skyrockets to 16,632

This means the defence doesn't even know if the play is going to be run or pass after the ball is snapped because the runner might stop and pass.

Basically it's a signal to noise ratio.

Anything that adds permutations, but also adds mystery about pattern makes this more complicated to decipher

For example at the ruck in rugby there are very few options: pick run right, pick run left, pick run middle, kick over, kick left, kick right, pass left, pass right. However if you can disguise your options somehow, then the defence will be on the back foot (for example the league-style kicks used a lot in rugby now).

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