What is a back shoulder pass in football?

Dear Sports Fan,

What is a back shoulder pass in football? Whose shoulder does the phrase refer to?

Thanks,
Darrell


Dear Darrell,

A back shoulder pass in football is a type of throw where the quarterback aims the ball to intersect with the path of a receiver just behind him as he runs down the field. It is an offensive tactic that takes advantage of a fundamental defensive rule by breaking a fundamental offensive rule.

The second thing you’re taught when you’re taught to pass a football (the first is: look where you want the ball to go, not at the ball! Thanks Dad…) is to lead the person catching the ball. If the receiver is running from your left to your right, you should throw the ball to a spot farther right. This way, assuming the receiver keeps running at a constant speed, by the time the ball gets to them, it will be right in front of their path, in a spot that’s easy for them to catch while they continue running.

The first thing you’re taught when you’re taught to play defense in football is to keep your body between the player you’re covering and your end zone. That way, even if they catch the ball, you should be able to tackle them (or two-hand touch them or grab their flag) before they can run into the end zone and score a touchdown.

These two fundamental principles are not in conflict when a player runs horizontally on the field to catch a pass from their quarterback or if they run down the field, turn around, and come back toward the quarterback. In those scenarios, the quarterback’s attempt to lead their receiver will not risk putting the ball closer to where the defender is (between the receiver and the end zone) than where the receiver is. But, when a receiver runs down the field, away from their quarterback, then leading him inevitably leaves the ball on the side of the receiver where the defender ought to be. Sometimes, a wide receiver is fast enough to negate this issue by running past their defender. This puts them between a well lead pass and the defender and often results in a long gain or touchdown. Most of the time though, the defender is savvy, fast, and physical enough to prevent this approach. So, a clever team will deploy the back shoulder pass. Here’s how it works:

As a receiver runs down the field, with their defender between them and the end zone, the quarterback leads them but not as much as they normally would. Instead of aiming to have the ball land right in front of the receiver, the quarterback aims just behind where the receiver will be when the ball reaches them. If the receiver did nothing to adjust to the flight of the ball, it would hit him in the butt or land just behind his feet. That’s not what happens — instead, the receiver knows what’s about to happen, so she turns her upper body as the ball flies toward her. Now facing sideways, usually toward the middle of the field, the receiver is perfectly positioned to catch the ball as it lands… right at the receiver’s back-most shoulder. That will be the right shoulder if the receiver is running on the left side of the field and has turned in to the right; the left shoulder on the right side of the field with the receiver turned in to the left.

One disadvantage of a back shoulder pass is that it’s harder to catch. I tried to trap a pass in a pickup soccer game that was a little behind me the other day and I basically just fell directly into a pile of mud. It’s hard to swivel your upper body while running full speed and successfully catch a ball. In order to do it, a wide receiver will often have to slow down or even dive backwards, both of which make it harder for them to gain yardage after the catch, another disadvantage. The advantage is that it is safer than leading a wide receiver running down the field. Although back shoulder passes require great anticipation from the quarterback and coordination between him and his receivers to work, when they go wrong, they don’t tend to go very, very wrong. No matter what, the intended receiver’s body should still be between the ball and the defender, making it harder for them to intercept the ball or knock it down.

By breaking the fundamental rule we all learn when we first throw a football, the back shoulder pass exploits another fundamental rule – that a defender should keep his body between the receiver he’s guarding and the end zone.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

How does a wrist shot work in hockey?

Dear Sports Fan,

How does a wrist shot work in ice hockey? Can you describe how it works and when or why a player would choose to use it?

Thanks,
Greg


Dear Greg,

There are three main kinds of shots in ice hockey: the slap shot, the snap shot, and the wrist shot. Each shot has its own technique and is distinguishable when watching hockey on TV or in person. Each shot has advantages and disadvantages and is appropriate for different situations. In this post, we’ll describe the wrist shot. You’ll learn how to identify it when you see it, when and what it’s used for, and even how to do it if you find yourself with a hockey stick in your hands.

The wrist shot is the quiet killer in hockey. Although it’s no longer the most common shot in hockey, it still has a lot of advantages over its more bombastic cousins, the slap shot and snap shot. It’s easy to identify a wrist shot because it’s usually the one you don’t see! For a professional player, the transition between simply skating with the puck and taking a wrist shot is seamless to the point of invisibility. If you look closely, you may notice a player position the puck slightly farther out to the side or even slightly behind them right before they move into the wrist shot motion. From this position, the player flicks the puck forward in a single, smooth motion.

Most of the power of a wrist shot comes from a shift in weight from one leg to the other – the leg farthest from the goal to the one closest – that’s also neigh impossible to see. In the follow through after the shot, a player’s stick may come up to about waist-high. The puck moves fluidly throughout a wrist shot from being on the ice but not in touch with the stick, to touching the tip of the stick, to sliding backwards along the blade. The puck will slide back on the blade only to around the midpoint of the curve, at which point, the players movement begins to sling-shot the puck forward. It’s called a wrist shot because a player’s lower hand will turn over during the shot, using the wrist to flick the puck at toward the goal. Take a look at NHL player Alex Steen score on a wrist shot here:

The biggest advantage of the wrist shot is that goalies and defenders have as hard a time identifying one as we do in the audience. A wrist shot gets the puck moving towards the net with no fanfare. Although it’s the slowest of the three major shots in the air, the suddenness with which a hockey player can take a wrist shot often makes it the best option. It also requires very little commitment from the shooting player. If she sees a teammate in a better position to shoot, it’s relatively easy to change the wrist shot to a pass. If the shot is blocked or the puck stolen, a player who has chosen a wrist shot should be able to recover and play defense with less difficulty than a player who may be off-balance after a slap shot gone wrong. The wrist shot is also the easiest to aim for experts and, because the puck never looses contact with the stick, for beginners as well.

The wrist shot is the easiest shot to practice at home. Take a hockey stick and a tennis ball and find a wall with no windows nearby! Put the tennis ball about two feet to your forehand side (right if you’re right-handed, left if you’re a lefty) and about six inches behind your feet. In a single motion, slide the ball forward, allow it to settle on the middle of the curve of your stick, and then shoot it forward by lifting the stick while turning your bottom wrist quickly up. You should get a nice, fluid shot. If not, it may help to move the ball back and forward a bit while it’s at your side and start the motion at the end of a backwards roll. Once you’ve got it down with a tennis ball, try it with a puck. It will be much harder to lift off the ground that way, but it is possible.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

 

How does a slap shot work in ice hockey?

Dear Sports Fan,

How does a slap shot work in ice hockey? Can you describe how it works and when or why a player would choose to use it?

Thanks,
Marie


Dear Marie,

There are three main kinds of shots in ice hockey: the slap shot, the snap shot, and the wrist shot. Each shot has its own technique and is distinguishable when watching hockey on TV or in person. Each shot has advantages and disadvantages and is appropriate for different situations. In this post, we’ll describe hockey’s most iconic shot, the slap shot. You’ll learn how to identify it when you see it, when and what it’s used for, and even how to do it if you find yourself with a hockey stick in your hands.

The slap shot is perhaps the most iconic image people have of a hockey shot. A player winds up for it, bringing their stick up almost vertically behind them before using all their muscles to swing it down. Instead of hitting the puck directly, as you might expect, in a slap shot, the stick makes contact with the ice a few inches behind the puck. When this happens, the stick actually bends with the blade of the stick forced backwards by the impenetrability of the ice. As the stick’s forward motion continues, the blade releases from the ice, getting an extra bit of speed by springing forward just as it connects with the puck. The result is a powerful shot, the most powerful in hockey. As you can see in this .gif from a “hardest shot competition” in last year’s NHL All Star game, slap shots can travel over 100 miles per hour!

The clearest advantage of a slap shot is speed. Ironically, the disadvantage is also speed. Although the slap shot propels the puck faster than any other shot, it also takes the longest time to execute. In today’s NHL, it’s rare for a player to have enough time to wind up and release a slap shot before a defender has hit them, stolen the puck from them, or slid into a position to block the shot. Even if a player does have time to get a slap shot off, they aren’t particularly deceptive. If a goalie has time to set up in position to save a slap shot, they’ll probably be able to do so. The times when a slap shot are most effective are when a player can execute the process before the defense knows they’re going to be in a position to shoot. This usually means one of the shooter’s teammates has the puck and passes it to the shooter as he’s setting up to shoot. This type of slap shot, directly from a pass, is called a one-timer. It has an added element of difficulty because the shooter must time and position their shot to strike a moving puck but when it works it’s almost unstoppable.

If you want to work on taking a slap shot yourself, your best bet is to start on solid ground. With shoes on pavement, a slap shot is no harder than swinging a golf club. It’s on ice that things get tricky. You must be able to swing your stick and torque your body with great force without losing your balance. Practice it incrementally, starting with a small windup and working up to a full one. You’ll know you’ve gone too fast when you find yourself sitting on the ice without having moved the puck at all. Another note for beginners — unless you’re freakishly strong, don’t try to do the trick the pros do to get extra speed by hitting the ice first. You’re probably not stronger than your stick, so instead of it bending, your body will take the brunt of the ice’s impact. Ouch!

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

 

What is a hockey assist?

Dear Sports Fan,

I was playing basketball the other day and one of my teammates complimented me on a “nice hockey assist.” I know that an assist is the pass right before someone makes a shot. What is a hockey assist?

Thanks,
Conrad


Dear Conrad,

A hockey assist refers to a pass that led to a pass that led to a goal or basket. It’s called a hockey assist because hockey is the only one of the major sports to credit players for it in basic official statistics. A hockey player who passes the puck to a teammate who scores is given an assist. A hockey player who passes the puck to a teammate who passes the puck to a teammate who scores is also credited with an assist. To distinguish the two types of assists, the first one is called a primary assist and the other is called a secondary assist. What the hockey world calls a secondary assist, the rest of the world calls a “hockey assist.”

Every sport has a historical group of simple statistics which defined how casual fans and even insiders thought about players for a long time. Examining the statistics can also tell us something about the culture of the sport. In hockey, one of those basic statistics was points, calculated by adding all of that player’s goals and assists. This is perhaps simplest way to judge a player’s worth. In a player’s cumulative season or career point total, a secondary assist counts just as much as a primary one. From this, we can intuit that hockey values teamwork and spreads out credit for achievements more than most sports. This rings true considering some of hockey’s other traditions, like putting the name of every player from the championship team on the Stanley Cup, hockey’s ultimate trophy.

The hockey assist is not without its critics. In fact, a quick google search reveals people who call it a lie, pointless, and less sense than almost any other rule in sports. People need to chill out. The statistical revolution has come to every major sport and has completely revolutionized the way players are evaluated within teams. No team worth its salt is going to make player decisions on statistics as fundamental as assists or points. Furthermore, as people have become more savvy about looking for meaningful statistics in other sports, the hockey assist received some serious consideration. Here’s a great blog post by Kevin Yeung for SB Nation’s Memphis Grizzlies blog, Grizzly Bear Blues, in which he explores the hockey assist in a basketball context. It’s worth a read if you’re interested in learning more about the value of your basketball hockey assist!

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

What does it mean to roll with the punches?

Dear Sports Fan,

You know the expression, “roll with the punches?” It means to be adaptable to whatever comes at you in life. Is that a sports phrase? What does it mean to roll with the punches in a sports context?

Thanks,
Sara


Dear Sara,

The phrase “roll with the punches” comes from boxing, where athletes are literally in the business of punching and getting punched. Although many people think of boxing as the ultimate aggressive sport, defense is as important or perhaps even more important than offense. If a boxer can develop techniques to defend themselves from being hit or being hit hard by their opponent, they are well on their way to winning the fight. Rolling with the punches is one defensive option in boxing. What I love about how the expression has moved from its sports context into general use is how precisely the meanings line up with one another. The parallels are almost poetic once you see them. Here’s how rolling with the punches works in boxing.

Getting hit is inevitable in boxing. Oh, sure, boxers are taught to protect themselves with their hands, so punches land harmlessly on padded gloves instead of chins, noses, or stomachs. And yes, dodging a punch is a great idea too. But eventually, every boxer is going to get hit right in the head. This is when the smart boxer rolls with the punch. As they see or feel the punch coming, they move their head or body so that it’s moving the same direction as the punch. If a punch is coming at their head from their left, they move their head backwards and to the right. Watch Mohamed Ali demonstrate with two classic rolls:

This allows the body to arrange itself into an alignment that’s used to moving and proper for moving in the direction the punch will inevitably send it. This protects the boxer from the most damaging element of being hit – the sudden rotational force applied to the brain. This rotational force is what generally knocks a boxer out and causes the worst brain damage. If you watch fights, it’s usually the punch that a boxer doesn’t see and therefore can’t prepare for that knocks him or her out. The head snaps backwards or sideways and you know the fight is over.

Rolling the spot that’s going to get hit with the expected force of the punch protects a boxer from being surprised in this way. If you don’t believe me, take your hands and put them out and up in front of you with your elbows bent and your palms faced out. Get a friend to punch your hands a few times. Experiment with trying to keep your arms rigid (it hurts, right) and then letting your arms go loose and your hands give way as your friend punches them. It hurts a lot less, right?

The beautiful part of this is that in boxing, as in life, every one is going to get hit. If you can find a way to prepare yourself, not with fear or rigid resistance, but with calm acceptance, you can learn to live through most of what the world has to throw at you.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra

 

Why are some tournaments called opens?

Dear Sports Fan,

I’m excited that the U.S. Open tennis tournament is starting this week. I have a question which you might be able to answer though: why are some tournaments called opens? Who are they open to?

Thanks,
Becky


Dear Becky,

In today’s sports language, the word “open” is almost a synonym for the word “tournament”. If you ask a tennis fan what she’s watching in the next couple weeks, she’ll say, “the U.S. Open” not “the U.S. Open tournament”. In a more technical sense, the term does make a distinction between one type of tournament and another. In a non-open (sometimes called an “invitational”) tournament, all of the places in the tournament will be filled by professional tennis players based on a current ranking that is maintained by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). An open tournament doles out most of its places to players based on the same rankings but it reserves a small number of spots (16 for men, 8 to 16 for women) for people who qualify by winning or doing well in a qualifying tournament. (Side note — players who don’t win their qualifying tournament but who make it into an Open field anyway are wonderfully called Lucky Losers.) These qualifying tournaments are open to professional and amateur players. Amateur qualifiers have rarely made an impact in recent years. In men’s tennis, a qualifier named Vladimir Voltchkov made it to the semifinals in the 2000 Wimbledon and during the 2015 British Open (of golf), an amateur qualifier named Paul Dunne was tied for the lead after the third of four rounds. Nonetheless, the inclusive nature of open tournaments adds to their romance. Like an open cup in European soccer, the fact that an unknown could win is enough to justify their inclusion.

Given current use of the “open” moniker, you’d be forgiven for thinking that tournaments have historically been the province of professional players and the opening of open tournaments has always been to allow amateurs to join in. Historically, at least in tennis, it’s actually exactly the opposite. Before 1968 the major tennis tournaments each year were open only to amateurs. In 1968, they all began to allow professionals to compete. This change was reflected in the name of two of the tournaments. The U.S. National Championships became the U.S. Open and the Australian Championships became the Australian Open. In today’s money fueled sports world, it seems crazy to think that professionals were excluded and amateurs preferred, but that’s how things were in tennis before 1968.

Enjoy the U.S. Open! Here are two printable brackets that you can use to track the action. The 16 qualifiers are labeled with a “(Q)” in the men’s draw and the women’s draw as well.

Thanks for your question,
Ezra Fischer

What does "tale of the tape" mean?

Dear Sports Fan,

You’re good with words and phrases. I was watching Rachael Maddow the other day and she said she was doing a special “tale of the tape” show. What does “tale of the tape” mean? Is it some kind of sports thing?

Thanks,
Ellis


Dear Ellis,

The phrase “tale of the tape” refers to making an objective comparison, particularly between two combatants. It comes from the sport of boxing where fighters are measured and weighed before a fight.

The pre-fight measurement has an important function but it also has its share of pageantry. To make boxing reasonably fair, it is organized into weight classes. For example, the famous fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in 1981 was fought in the welterweight category. Both fighters had to be less than 147 pounds and more than 140 pounds during the weigh-in, which is usually the night before the fight. For a professional fight, the minimum weight is usually waived, but for amateurs, it’s an important safety element. Why the obsession with weight? Assuming that most boxers are not flabby, weight translates almost directly from muscle and height into punching power. The heavyweight class, the most traditionally prestigious weight class, has no maximum weight, only a minimum of 200 pounds, and even that isn’t enforced. So why do heavyweight fights still have weigh-ins the day before? Part of the answer is that the weigh in has become an important part of hyping or developing interest for the fight. The boxers pose for promotional photos with eyes locked on each other and fists cocked. Often trash talk is exchanged. Sometimes they even come to blows, although that’s usually put to an end quickly. The other reason is that the boxers’ weight, height, and reach are important factors for people who are betting on the fight. Reach, for example, or wingspan, as it would be referred to in a non-boxing context, is important because one fighter being able to punch the other from a distance at which they cannot be punched back is a big advantage.

The word, “tape,” in the phrase, “tale of the tape” suggests that reach or height were the first measurement being referred to. After all, what else do you measure with a measuring tape? Over time, the phrase has expanded, not just to include weight, but also other semi-objective measurements like a fighter’s previous record, what championship belts they possess, as well as biographical information like where they are from. In this context, it combines making an objective comparison with simply describing the fighter. That’s likely the sense in which Rachael Maddow was using the phrase. Did she do a comparison of two candidates which included objective information about their positions as well as stories about their past?

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

What does "the play is to" 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base mean in baseball?

Dear Sports Fan,

What does it mean for “the play to be to” first, second, or third base in baseball?

Thanks,
Lora


Dear Lora,

One of the most important rules in baseball is the force play. I wrote a post explaining how it works a few days ago which would be a good post to read before this one. To summarize, a force play is when the defending team can get a runner out by the touching the base he is running to (usually with a foot) while holding the ball (usually in a hand). This ability is predicated on a rule that states that no two players may occupy a base at the same time. Whenever the batter hits the ball, she must run to first base. This forces anyone on first to run to second, which pushes a player on second to third, and so on. When someone says “the play is to” first, second, or third base, or even home plate, they are identifying the most forward force play available to be made. To run us through each of the most common force plays, I asked my friend Al Murray to help explain.

The play is to first base

Assume that there are no base runners. As always, the batter must try to reach first base. A ball hit in the infield or short outfield that isn’t caught in the air (hits the ground) must be picked up “fielded” and thrown to the first baseman. The first baseman does not have to tag the runner, simply stepping on the base while demonstrating command of the ball will record the runner as out. If the runner reaches the base first, or the ball is thrown away from the first baseman (throwing error), or the first baseman (even in female sports the position makes seem to be x-baseman) drops the ball (catching error) then the runner is safe.

The play is to second base

Assume that our runner gets to first base safely. We now have a runner on first who is obligated to run to second base if the next batter hits the ball. There is some complexity here that’s worth exploring in another post but, at least if the ball is hit onto the ground, there is no choice for the runner on first. Let’s assume a ground ball. The batter becomes a runner and has to go to first base. This pushes the runner on first to run for second. All other things being equal, the defensive team would prefer to start pitching to the next batter with a runner on first than a runner on second. So, even though there are force plays at first and second, the ideal play is to throw the ball to second base.

If there is enough time, the player that just tagged second base will try to throw to first base and force that batter turned runner out there as well. If successful this is called turning a double play. The runner thrown out at second has some opportunities and a tactical goal to prevent the second part of the double play and will try to impede the throw to first, sometimes by sliding into the baseman or by obstructing the line of throw. In the modern game, there are limits as to what the thrown out runner may do, due mostly to rules created for player safety. In the “golden age” games a hard, ‘spikes-high’ slide would sometimes dissuade the thrower from attempting the double play in favor of survival. Nothing quite like the prospect of a 180 pound person sliding into you at 15-20 MPH with 1/2” spikes set to slice open your body to make you reconsider trying to turn a double play.

The play is to third base

Assume that both runners reach successfully and that both 1st and 2nd base are occupied. Now the lead runner must try for 3rd, the runner on first must go to second, and the batter has to run to first. There is a force play on first, second, or third base for the defense, since every runner is obligated to move forward, but the best scenario (aside from a double or triple play) is to get the out at third base because that’s the player who will score first if things go wrong.

The play is to home plate

When there is a runner on every base, then ever runner is obligated to move forward when the batter hits the ball. This is called having the bases loaded. When the bases are loaded, the leading runner will score by running from third to home if the defense does not stop her. So, the ideal play for the defense is to throw the ball home and get the force play there. This is not always easy — home plate is usually the farthest from wherever a fielder corrals the ball — but it’s always the best move if it can be done successfully.

What’s the pattern or general rule?

Whether the play is to first, second, or third base or home plate, the strategy is the same. The defense wants tag the base  the lead runner forced off his base by a following runner is headed to. If they’re able to catch the ball and tag the base before the runner gets there, the defense will register an out and prevent the offense from advancing around the base path.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer and Al Murray

What does "links" mean in golf?

Dear Sports Fan,

What does “links” mean in golf?

Thanks,
Wade


Dear Wade,

The term, “links” has two meanings within golf. It is used generally to refer to the course that golf is played on. A golfer might say to a friend of hers, “sorry, I can’t come over and collect kindling with you because I’m going to hit the links today. It also has a more technical meaning, referring to a particular type or style of golf course. If you haven’t ever bothered to dig into the history of the word links, you might find it easy to invent reasons for its general meaning. Viewed from above, a golf course, with its many kidney shaped fairways and greens, can look a little like a string of sausages. Perhaps that’s why it’s described as links? If you’ve never seen it written, you might think that it’s not “links” but “lynx,” the genus of small, predatory, wild cats. Why a cat? Who knows? Half of golf terms seem to be birds, so why not throw a cat in there? In truth, the history of the use of the word “links” in golf can be traced all the way back to the very beginning of the sport.

Although the very first golf-like games may have been played in what is now the Netherlands as early as 1261, golf historians tend to trace a direct line from Scotland in the 1400s to today. Golf must have been a fairly common sport by the mid-1400s and just as addictive as its modern counterpart, because in 1457 it was officially prohibited by the King of Scotland. Early golf enthusiasts faced several difficulties. As we already know, golf was outlawed at times, but even when it was legal, you needed a lot of uninhabited, non-farm land to play it on. The solution that many Scottish golfers found was to create courses near the shore, where the earth was sandy and the water brackish. Useless for farming, this land was ideal for the sport in many ways. The grasses that grew tended “to have short blades with long roots,” which made it hearty enough to survive being hit with clubs and balls, and when nibbled short by livestock, smooth enough for the ball to run on. The hard ground also encouraged the ball to bounce and roll further. The landscape also came with many natural impediments to golf – wind and rain blowing in from the sea, small streams that ran through the land and sandier patches that stopped the grass from growing and the ball from rolling. Instead of resisting these features, golfers embraced the challenge, and indeed, water hazards and sand traps are the two main artificially created obstacles on modern golf courses. The word the Scots used to describe this environment was “links” which comes from the Old English, hlinc, meaning “rising ground” or “ridge.”

Golf is no longer illegal and there are courses spread around the world in every environment imaginable. Although it can be used as a general term, links has retained its meaning as being descriptive of a certain style of golf course set in a particular type of environment. The most obvious visual difference between a non-links and a links course is that a links course will have few or no trees. Unlike a modern course, where the fairways (a safer area to set up a golfer’s next shot, because it has shorter, more even grass) and the rough (the opposite) are easily visually distinguished by color and texture, on links courses they are more difficult to distinguish. The same goes for the course’s greens which, on modern courses are planted with very soft grass to make the ball slow down and roll, but which on links courses may be more similar to the rest of the course. Water and sand are the key obstacles in all styles of golf course, but on links courses, they are either naturally occurring or carefully designed to give that impression. A key difference on links courses is the presence of some very dramatic walls that hold a green back from a sandy bunker.

As a result of the topographical and environmental differences, success on a links course requires different techniques from other courses. Tina Mickelson addresses this on a post she wrote for the PGA website. She identifies three key differences:

  • Because of the wind on links courses, players should drive the ball (the first and usually longest shot on any given hole) with a lower trajectory than on other courses.
  • Since the texture of the grass doesn’t vary as much between fairway and green, players should let the ball bounce up and onto the green as opposed to trying to loft it into the air and have it stick on the green.
  • The sand bunkers on links courses tend to be much more treacherous than on other courses. Mickelson recommends practicing very high shots out of sand, to get over the walls, and extreme prudence. It’s better to hit the ball the wrong way but onto the grass than it is to get stuck in the sand for shot after shot.

Golf enjoys tradition as much as any sport and as such, there’s a certain prestige to links courses. The downside of this is that lost of golf courses that don’t really fit the description of a links course call themselves one anyway, for marketing reasons. The benefit of golf’s attraction to its own past is that it gives The British Open, the only major tournament always played on a true links course, the enjoyable and rosy glow of long history and tradition.

Thanks for reading,
Ezra Fischer

Soccer 202: Culture

Have you graduated from our Soccer 101 course? Blown through our Soccer 201 course on positions and logistics? Have your diplomas framed and on your wall? Great! Here’s your next challenge. Soccer 202: Culture is a five part email course with information about many of the more curious aspects of the culture surrounding the world’s favorite sport. Good luck!

  • What do the 20 most common strange soccer terms mean?
  • Why do soccer fans whistle?
  • Why is soccer so liberal?
  • Why do players blame the ball?
  • Playing good vs. playing well