Somebody recently postulated that baseball is an "agrarian era" pastime, (North American) football corresponds to the "industrial age", and basketball is "post-industrial". The metaphor is founded on various aspects of the games: the timelessness and open fields of baseball, the tightly structured teamwork and trench warfare of football, and the fluidly shifting mutability of basketball.

A clever proposal --- but does it actually lead to any improved understanding of social history? (Or of the individual sports, for that matter?) As an experiment, consider this line-up:

baseball air
football land
basketball sea

It arguably has implications for combat and various aspects of the armed services, and maybe in addition offers suggestions re ecology and the biosphere of Gaia.

Or look at this formation:

baseball paper
football rock
basketball scissors

Might not these analogies be enlightening in the context of modern economics, e.g., in non-transitive competitive imbalances among various countries in multilateral trade?

Or to carry the water buckets farther downcourt, into a geopolitical sphere, consider please:

baseball Americas
football Asia
basketball Europe

What does this imply about international politics? (And what games are correlated with Africa, Australia, and Antarctica?)

The bottom line, obviously, is that metaphors can, like abstract art, be hugely fun --- but they don't imply knowledge. The interpretation of the mapping is where insight may, sometimes, emerge ...

(see also KenningConstructionKit (17 Nov 1999), CreativeDevices (1 Jan 2001), ...)

TopicRecreation - TopicSociety - TopicThinking - TopicHumor - 2004-10-14

(correlates: Mystery Men, FlyHigh, Mostly Sane, ...)