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My neighbor with season tickets to UCLA football games at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena couldn’t go, so we went, which is always fun. You park on the Brookside golf course in the Arroyo Seco, which is lit up like the golf course in Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic sci-fi movie Melancholia.

The Rose Bowl isn’t a modern luxury stadium, but, hey, it’s the Rose Bowl. Baseball stadiums are often renown for their city skyline settings, but football stadiums less often, perhaps because they are more enclosing. But the Rose Bowl, at the foot of mile-high Mt. Wilson where Edwin Hubble discovered that the Milky Way is just one of countless galaxies, is an exception.

UCLA came into game against Utah ranked in the Top Ten. A victory over Utah, which was unranked (but pretty good: they beat Michigan in Ann Arbor), would have propelled the Bruins into the Top Five with all the other upsets this week. But UCLA will always break your heart in football.

It’s not the kind of place where everybody involved will do whatever it takes to be #1. In late 1981, I was talking to a coworker who had been an All-American football player at UCLA in 1970s. We were lamenting UCLA’s 1981 loss to USC in which the last five yards of Marcus Allen’s NCAA record-setting 2,342 yards rushing season were USC’s game-winning touchdown. He explained to me why USC was better than UCLA at football: “Because USC’s players know that if they beat UCLA they will be rewarded.” At that point I responded with something obtuse, so he repeated for my benefit, “USC’s players know they will be rewarded.

UCLA lost to Utah tonight 30-28 despite the refs giving them a second chance after time expired to kick a long game-winning field goal. Utah had fewer total yards but deserved to win, in sizable part because Utah punter Tom Hackett put on a showcase of 21st Century trans-Pacific punting techniques, average over 49 yards per punt despite pinning UCLA inside their 20 four times. Hackett’s techniques were so varied and superior to the American standard that I suspected he was an Australian Rules football player.

Here’s video of Hackett punting against Fresno St. earlier this season:

The announcer in the video calls him an Australian rugby player, but he’s really a player of Australian Rules football, which is a different game.

Australian Rules football, a cousin to soccer, rugby, American (gridiron) football, and Gaelic football, is particularly punting-intensive. Because Aussie Rules football is a huge sport in one of the world’s great sporting countries, the outstanding athletes of Australia are better at punting than American punters. In recent years, the NFL has started to import older Aussie Rules players who are getting up into their 30s (too old for the athletic demands of Aussie Rules, but plenty spry for NFL punting duties).

Sure enough, Utah’s punter is from Melbourne. From the Salt Lake City Tribune:

The son of an Australian rules footballer who briefly played professionally, Hackett kicked from the time he could walk.

He led his prep team in goals — which are essentially punted through uprights — at Melbourne’s Scotch College, but while he was a better “kick” than his old man, he was small (5-foot-11) for an Australian rules forward, and not particularly fond of running.

In the preseason, as more determined players prepared to run up to 15 miles per game, Hackett would head to the beach, “maybe have one too many beers, and just have fun with my friends.”

When he saw on the 6 p.m. news one night that an Australian Football League luminary might train for the American game with an outfit called ProKick Australia, he thought that looked like a good deal. Kick the ball, do nothing else, and be compensated.

American football is notoriously not very foot-oriented. In the 1960s, foreign-born kickers from the Gogolak brothers onward introduced the superior soccer-style placekicking to American football. These days, virtually every NFL placekicker is an American born white guy who kicks soccer style.

The other use of the foot is punting, in which the player catches the ball with two hands, then drops it and kicks it out of the air with the top of his foot. The punt is used in American football to give the ball back to the other team far down the field. In the U.S., punters are typically football players who aren’t quite good enough to make it at other positions. American punters tend to be competent but not innovative, using the same rigid technique on every punt. This is particularly frustrating when American football teams punt within the other team’s 50 yard line. That seems to energize American punters to blast the ball over the goal line, from which it is brought out to the 20.

In contrast, watching Utah’s Hackett punt was like watching golfer Phil Mickelson play around the green. For example, on one punt from inside the 50, the kind of situation where an American punter normally blasts it into the end zone for a touchback, Hackett took the snap, sprinted to his right like it was a fake punt, then blasted a diagonal punt across the field to his left, knocking it out of bounds around UCLA’s 10 yard line.

Hackett normally ran for one to two seconds with the ball before punting, which looked bizarre to this American football fan, but offered several advantages.

– Running to his right could give him a better angle at kicking the ball over the left sideline within the 20.

– It made it harder for the defense to plan to block the punt since he could pick a lane without defensive penetration.

– He punted while running forward, while typical American punters punt while walking forward. This increased forward momentum translates into longer punts.

– By not punting immediately, he gained the equivalent amount of “hang-time” for his teammates to get downfield and cover the punt. Hackett tended to kick the ball with a different trajectory from American punters who aim for height — his punts were like a 1970s Jack Nicklaus tee-shot, starting out low, then rising in arc. Some of his punts were designed to roll forward like a modern teeshot, while ones in danger of going over the goalline were crafted to roll backwards.

A half century ago, punting used to be a bigger part of teams’ strategies because they weren’t as adept at moving the ball on offense. For example, in an old UCLA v. USC game of my childhood, a key play was Bruins halfback Greg Jones “quick-kicking” on third down instead of waiting for fourth down. With no punt returner back, Jones’ end over end punt rolled a terrific distance, pinning USC deep in their own territory. In 8th grade football games at recess, I’d imitate that strategy on the grounds that we were too disorganized to move the ball forward offensively in a sustained manner, so better to drive the other team back toward their goal line and then hope for a turnover.

Of course, modern football teams tends to be superbly organized on offense, so quick-kicks are rare these days: Tom Brady quick-kicked on 3rd and ten in a 2012 playoff game to keep from running up the score. But otherwise, teams are so good at passing that, outside of a snow game, it doesn’t make sense to pass up a down.

Nonetheless, the intense competitive balance in American football (as demonstrated by all the upsets in college football today) implies that a next phase will be the spread of superior Australian punting techniques nationally.

High level football in the United States is quite black dominated among stars, with the exception of the quarterback position. The media has long campaigned for more black quarterbacks in the name of diversity, but little interest has been devoted to a less divisive, more constructive possibility: Since American blacks never train to become placekickers and seldom punters, virtually all 64 placekickers and punters in the NFL are white. But almost none are stars because the game has evolved to the point where they are so competent they only get noticed when they foul up. But the 64 guys who touch the ball with their feet are treated like robots who occasionally go awry, not as athletes.

The NFL has started to think about making placekicking harder to make it more exciting when the kicker makes it. But the importation of advanced Aussie Rules techniques into the punting game won’t even require any rule changes, it just makes the punter a more interesting and exciting athlete.

So, the coming Aussie Rules era will increase racial diversity and equality in the NFL, which everybody is in favor of, right? Right?

 
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  1. Americans abroad get a lot of ribbing about football from the Commonwealth Anglos (Brits themselves really in most cases) who generally outnumber us: jokes about “handegg” and so on, general arrogant dismissals, proud, blanket incomprehension. This is a bit hard to take, as their preferred alternative, soccer, is blatantly and extraordinarily inferior. This is misleading, however, as the broader English-speaking world offers a number of fantastic sports, as good as or better than American football and relatively little known in the U.S.: rugby, Aussie football, Gaelic football, and the other Gaelic sport, hurling, which is probably the most fantastically entertaining game I have ever watched in my life. So Americans oughtn’t to be too complacent about our football but the existence of these other, less successful games does make the phenomenal success of soccer even more incomprehensible.

  2. > so he repeated for my benefit, “USC’s players know
    > they will be rewarded.

    uhm, bloody foreigner here–what does that imply?

    • Replies: @Discordiax
    @theo the kraut

    "USCs players will be rewarded"

    USC is one of the couple of dozen colleges where the football team is so important to the alumni (and sometimes other supporters) that the players are either paid "under the table" while playing (by boosters), or given cushy jobs after their playing days are done (again, by boosters).

    Boosters means fans committed enough to the team to donate money.

  3. within the other team’s 50 yard line. That seems to energize American punters to blast the ball over the goal line, from which it is brought out to the 20.

    This is no longer true; most punters will try to kick it in such a way so that the team can down the ball within the 10 yard line.

    • Replies: @EriK
    @ScarletNumber

    I think the metric you are looking for is inside the 20. There are still plenty of touchbacks.
    http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/punting/sort/puntsInside20/year/2013

  4. In Australian Rules Football, like Canadian football, there is no fair catch, so the need for a high trajectory to prevent out-kicking your coverage isn’t as necessary. The football is then dropped with the nose slightly elevated to give the ball forward roll and more distance if it isn’t caught, which in a bigger field like those in Australia and Canada, happens more frequently. Also, in Canada, a punt through the endzone, or not returned into play past the goal line, results in a single point (called a rouge).

  5. Wildly off-topic, but TNC goes into potentially interesting areas here regarding Black men and marriage:

    Reading this I kept thinking about how any talk about racism in America ultimately turns to the marriage rates among black women. (Making conversations about racism into conversations about black sexuality is old.) I don’t think very many people have thought much about what it means to be a black woman and consider tying yourself to a man living under the system Alexander outlines. As she notes, an appalling number of black men are in the hands of the state.

    Those who push marriage are basically saying, “You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint.” Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama’s upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: “The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/

    Of course, this is all the White Man’s fault, but still….

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @syonredux

    There are about 15 million black males in this country past their 17th birthday. I think about 800,000 are incarcerated at any one time. The majority of those in state prisons are locked up for violent crimes. So, somewhat north of 5% are in the hands of the state. They can avoid that by giving up the recreation of knocking over convenience stores and getting into asinine fights with acquaintances.

    Replies: @E. Rekshun

    , @Art Deco
    @syonredux

    While we are at it, the mean duration of a term in the state prison in this country is 30 months. That for a spell in the county jail is less than six months. It's not as if these young men have been locked away like Edmond Dantes.

    Replies: @syonredux

    , @Anonymous
    @syonredux


    Those who push marriage are basically saying, “You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint.” Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama’s upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: “The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found.”
     
    A lot of the problem, to reference a famous movie line:

    "Where the white women at?"
  6. I’ve always been shocked at how few rugby and aussie rules players play American college football, or play in the NFL.

    I believe Arkansas has an Aussie, and Alabama had one a few years ago.

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Steve, the traditional college football powers are having a difficult time with innovation. In the South, they want to ban the no-huddle offense, apparently because their defensive backs cannot respond appropriately without instructions from the sideline. Kentucky burned Steve Spurrier’s defense last night with direct snaps to the running back and flea flicker plays. These plays aren’t new, what’s new is the defense now having to make decisions without instructions from the sideline. Now I hear about innovation in punting. Is this innovation an attempt to offset the advantage of fast-twitch muscle fibres by exploiting the low IQ of the defensive backfield and special teams?

  8. This strikes me as a really encouraging development–and not just because I’m a quarter Australian. I’ve long wished that American football would get a lot more like Aussie Rules, which I find way more entertaining. Back in the early Eighties, ESPN used to rebroadcast condensed Aussie Rules games at 1:30 AM or something, and I can’t possibly express how perfect that sport was for drinking beer with other teenagers. Which can hardly be a coincidence, come to think of it…

    Anyway, YouTube is unsurprisingly awash in highlights–for example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxhqXzVBen4

    It makes perfect sense to import one of those guys. A brilliant innovation.

  9. That punter was probably the difference in the game as he gave UCLA bad field position all game. He also kept it out of the hand of Ishamel Adams, who is a great kick returner for UCLA. I have always wondered why angling kicks isn’t done more often. Even in Rugby the kicks are used to pin opponents down deep in their own territory and the kicks are usually designed to go out of bounds.

  10. @syonredux
    Wildly off-topic, but TNC goes into potentially interesting areas here regarding Black men and marriage:

    Reading this I kept thinking about how any talk about racism in America ultimately turns to the marriage rates among black women. (Making conversations about racism into conversations about black sexuality is old.) I don't think very many people have thought much about what it means to be a black woman and consider tying yourself to a man living under the system Alexander outlines. As she notes, an appalling number of black men are in the hands of the state.

    Those who push marriage are basically saying, "You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint." Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama's upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: "The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found."
     
    http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/


    Of course, this is all the White Man's fault, but still....

    Replies: @Art Deco, @Art Deco, @Anonymous

    There are about 15 million black males in this country past their 17th birthday. I think about 800,000 are incarcerated at any one time. The majority of those in state prisons are locked up for violent crimes. So, somewhat north of 5% are in the hands of the state. They can avoid that by giving up the recreation of knocking over convenience stores and getting into asinine fights with acquaintances.

    • Replies: @E. Rekshun
    @Art Deco

    They [black males] can avoid that by giving up the recreation of knocking over convenience stores and getting into asinine fights with acquaintances.

    If only that were all they were doing.

  11. @syonredux
    Wildly off-topic, but TNC goes into potentially interesting areas here regarding Black men and marriage:

    Reading this I kept thinking about how any talk about racism in America ultimately turns to the marriage rates among black women. (Making conversations about racism into conversations about black sexuality is old.) I don't think very many people have thought much about what it means to be a black woman and consider tying yourself to a man living under the system Alexander outlines. As she notes, an appalling number of black men are in the hands of the state.

    Those who push marriage are basically saying, "You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint." Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama's upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: "The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found."
     
    http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/


    Of course, this is all the White Man's fault, but still....

    Replies: @Art Deco, @Art Deco, @Anonymous

    While we are at it, the mean duration of a term in the state prison in this country is 30 months. That for a spell in the county jail is less than six months. It’s not as if these young men have been locked away like Edmond Dantes.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    @Art Deco

    Shouldn't you be posting that at TNC's site?

    Replies: @Art Deco

  12. Priss Factor [AKA "pizza with hot pepper"] says:

    Yanomano hand and the craven right that caved in.

    http://www.amren.com/news/2014/10/report-from-budapest/

  13. The variability of the football culture ate various schools is interesting. Academic schools like Stanford, Northwestern, Boston College and Vanderbilt struggle to compete within the rules. Their fans will never tolerate paying players or tolerating criminals and knuckleheads. The fans of these programs care as much about the team’s GPA as the won/loss record.

    Where things get interesting is between the Big Ten and the SEC. The Big Ten has had their scandals, but nothing like what has gone on in the SEC. Ohio State may not respect the rules, but Alabama is contemptuous of the rules. If you look at the maps in American Nations, the college football culture tracks closely with the demographic breakdown.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with why the SEC is dominant and no one should ever say otherwise.

    • Replies: @E. Rekshun
    @The Z Blog

    If you look at the maps in American Nations, the college football culture tracks closely with the demographic breakdown.

    It has something to do with distance from the Canadian border.

  14. OT

    In record time! Or almost record time. The Ebola version of the ‘fears backlash’ article has appeared:

    African immigrants worry about backlash from U.S. Ebola case

    They really should automate that process so an appropriate ‘fears backlash’ article can appear virtually immediately.

  15. Interesting and it could be very effective if punters kicked on the run. The offense would know what was about to happen but not the guys on defense who would just assume a normal punt was coming. That these Aussie football players might also have some speed and agility too would make them valuable for coverage of the punt return.

  16. Mike Sadler had several beautiful punts during MSU v. Nebraska last night. Pinned the Cornhuskers inside the 5 yard line twice. Probably made the difference in what ended up being a close game. He had a nice backspin and and unusual technique on one of the punts. Not as fancy as UCLAs punter, but you may be right that there are many defensive yards to be gained by innovating in Div 1 football in the punting game.

  17. Everything you say about the nature of punting as performed by American born players is true, but it was not always so.

    Clair Bee was an American coach best known for the success of his basketball teams at Long Island University in the 1930s and 1940s, but he also wrote sports books for boys–the Chip Hilton series.
    In one of those books Bee describes the different punting techniques being taught and practiced. One of the alternate methods was kicking the ball with the toe to make it go end over end rather than attempt to spiral the ball by kicking it with the instep.

    I wonder how much of the uniformity of punting technique can be ascribed to the adoption of the more pointed ball which makes the passing game easier. A photographic essay on the evolution of the current football from the one that Jim Thorpe was so adept at drop kicking would be fascinating.

    • Replies: @Gato de la Biblioteca
    @Steven Wilson

    The NFL Network did a special on the evolution of the football along with the evolution of the passing game. I believe it was one hour long and aired about a year ago.

    Replies: @Steven Wilson

  18. Priss Factor [AKA "pizza with hot pepper"] says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1VItuAQyM#t=507

    This Reckless is shit.

    He favors immigration Jamaica(commonwealth) than from white European nations.

  19. Hackett normally ran for one to two seconds with the ball before punting, which looked bizarre to this American football fan, but offered at least one disadvantage.

    -getting tackled before getting the punt off.

  20. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    @ 4. RT Rider:

    In Australian Rules Football, like Canadian football, there is no fair catch, so the need for a high trajectory to prevent out-kicking your coverage isn’t as necessary.

    The fair catch is known in rugby and in Aussie Rules as a “mark”, but in Aussie Rules it’s evolved to look very different and has become a central part of the game. If you catch the ball on the fly, you get a free kick. Teams try to advance the ball down a very big field into scoring range by a succession of mark – free kick -mark – free kick. Without any concept of offside, marks are aggressively contested, highlight reel action. Australian teams have recruited former college basketball players from the US for their skill in competing for the high ball.

    AFL club North Melbourne have decided to take a two-year punt on an American college basketballer. Eric Wallace, 24, has impressed enough in a 10-day trial to earn a contract with the Kangaroos.

    Two nations separated by a common language: a British/Australian punt is a bet, so taking a punt means taking a risk, the opposite of the American figurative meaning. A footballer under pressure, or a politician trying to avoid a difficult decision, kicks the ball out of the field, which is known as kicking into touch.

    The free kick part of the mark/fair catch exists as a vestigial element in American football..

    • Replies: @RT Rider
    @Anonymous

    Thank you for the clarification. However, in American football, the catch is uncontested, as the receiver indicates the catch by raising his hand over his head. If I understand you correctly, the catch can be contested under Aussie rules, not by tackling, but by competing for the catch?

  21. @Art Deco
    @syonredux

    There are about 15 million black males in this country past their 17th birthday. I think about 800,000 are incarcerated at any one time. The majority of those in state prisons are locked up for violent crimes. So, somewhat north of 5% are in the hands of the state. They can avoid that by giving up the recreation of knocking over convenience stores and getting into asinine fights with acquaintances.

    Replies: @E. Rekshun

    They [black males] can avoid that by giving up the recreation of knocking over convenience stores and getting into asinine fights with acquaintances.

    If only that were all they were doing.

  22. @The Z Blog
    The variability of the football culture ate various schools is interesting. Academic schools like Stanford, Northwestern, Boston College and Vanderbilt struggle to compete within the rules. Their fans will never tolerate paying players or tolerating criminals and knuckleheads. The fans of these programs care as much about the team's GPA as the won/loss record.

    Where things get interesting is between the Big Ten and the SEC. The Big Ten has had their scandals, but nothing like what has gone on in the SEC. Ohio State may not respect the rules, but Alabama is contemptuous of the rules. If you look at the maps in American Nations, the college football culture tracks closely with the demographic breakdown.

    That has absolutely nothing to do with why the SEC is dominant and no one should ever say otherwise.

    Replies: @E. Rekshun

    If you look at the maps in American Nations, the college football culture tracks closely with the demographic breakdown.

    It has something to do with distance from the Canadian border.

  23. @Art Deco
    @syonredux

    While we are at it, the mean duration of a term in the state prison in this country is 30 months. That for a spell in the county jail is less than six months. It's not as if these young men have been locked away like Edmond Dantes.

    Replies: @syonredux

    Shouldn’t you be posting that at TNC’s site?

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    @syonredux

    No. Haven't been able to post at The Atlantic for about five years. They had too much trouble with godawful trolls and required more personal information than I usually volunteer.

  24. Lots of teams used roll-out punts something like 5-10 years back, but they’ve fallen out of favor. My guess would be that it leaves greater opportunities for things to go horribly wrong and makes coverage tougher since it’s harder to know when and where the ball will be received. Regular punts have fewer moving parts, can be based on more consistent timing. Roll-outs seemed to be a lot more random–sometimes it’d bounce 55 yards with no return, sometimes the punters would botch them horribly and they’d go 30 yards total or be blocked, sometimes the returners would pick up the bouncers on the run with no one around them and get easy yards cause nobody got down far enough. I’d guess this excessive randomness was the problem–avoiding bad punts is more important than getting really good punts. Though this is all just memory/speculation, it’s not like I’ve looked into this kinda thing.

  25. “American punters tend to be competent but not innovative, using the same rigid technique on every punt.”

    In Super Bowl X, three step punter Bobby Walden nearly cost the Steelers the game with his ineffective punting, which caused a turnover (due to a blocked punt) and had a couple of other near blocked punts as well. A few seasons later, PIT got wise and drafted Craig Colquitt of the 2 step punt. Colquitt was among the newer generation who discarded the traditional three step then punt in favor of one, two, PUNT! And it worked and that’s been the way ever since.

    The Rose Bowl also has a unique history of hosting a couple of SB’s. Super Bowl XIV, Steelers vs Rams, still has the all time live attendance record with over 103k spectators. The mountains in the background while the sun was sinking in the horizon was quite breathtaking, as was the final score (31-19 Steelers).

    Well, Steve, it does appear that you are a loyal Bruin after all. With the way that they’ve been playing this yr, it appears as though they could vie for some kind of possible playoff or something.

    Few yrs back, in late November, was visiting SoCal and saw a line nearly 20 miles long. I asked my brother what the fuss was. These were folks of all ages tailgating along the streets.

    “UCLA vs USC game’s today.” Came the response. Wow. Sounds like that’s quite a rivalry and hopefully they can hand the Trojans their just desserts later this yr.

  26. @theo the kraut
    > so he repeated for my benefit, “USC’s players know
    > they will be rewarded.

    uhm, bloody foreigner here--what does that imply?

    Replies: @Discordiax

    “USCs players will be rewarded”

    USC is one of the couple of dozen colleges where the football team is so important to the alumni (and sometimes other supporters) that the players are either paid “under the table” while playing (by boosters), or given cushy jobs after their playing days are done (again, by boosters).

    Boosters means fans committed enough to the team to donate money.

  27. @syonredux
    @Art Deco

    Shouldn't you be posting that at TNC's site?

    Replies: @Art Deco

    No. Haven’t been able to post at The Atlantic for about five years. They had too much trouble with godawful trolls and required more personal information than I usually volunteer.

  28. Love the Melancholia reference. The one time I was at the Rose Bowl for a game, it had been raining so we even had the sinking into the ground slog. Too bad Lars ruined what could have been a wonderful 10 minute music video by interleaving a 120 minute existential angst snoozefest.

  29. Steve,

    OT, but in a piece in the Washington Post, a Markus Bergstrom of the Start-up Cities Institute has the intellectual response to your Citizenism. Mr. Bergstrom uses the term Borderism to describe discriminating on the basis of where someone is born and compares it to racism – which, as we all know (well, as all non-Jewish white people know) is the Worst Thing in the World.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/losing-the-birth-lottery/2014/10/03/d1806338-4a69-11e4-a046-120a8a855cca_story.html

    At first, I laughed at the whole article, but after I thought about it a bit, Mr. Bergstrom is really just taking our current worldview to its logical conclusion. He’s actually doing people a favor by showing where this all should end.

  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    In college in Hawaii I was often on the field while Jason Elam was practicing. I guess he was a kicker and not a punter, but I remember thinking that he had it pretty good from the point of view of not having to do much running or anything.

    Now I see that Hawaii has a few Australian punters on the team causing trouble for opponents.

    Looks like all that Australian know-how didn’t help them against Rice yesterday though…

    15th loss in a row on the road…

  31. uhm, bloody foreigner here–what does that imply?

    Cash for the players from appreciative alumni. (Or other rewards, such as cars. The cars are easier for the NCAA governing bodies to spot, though, which can result in sanctions.)

  32. What a wide-ranging thread: punting, black incarceration rates, and Edmond Dantes. As far as football goes, it could use some innovation. I like football, but it is too choppy these days. I’d love to see a limit on substitutions and have more guys play both offense and defense. That will moderate body sizes. I would also like to see far less coaching allowed, especially taking the mic out of the QB’s helmet in the NFL.

    I watched those Aussie Rules matches(?) sometimes as a kid on ESPN. It was kind of interesting but seemed like formalized smear the queer.

  33. At Salon, Cornel West discovers that only Michelle, not Barack, is descended from slaves.

  34. @ScarletNumber
    within the other team’s 50 yard line. That seems to energize American punters to blast the ball over the goal line, from which it is brought out to the 20.

    This is no longer true; most punters will try to kick it in such a way so that the team can down the ball within the 10 yard line.

    Replies: @EriK

    I think the metric you are looking for is inside the 20. There are still plenty of touchbacks.
    http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/player/_/stat/punting/sort/puntsInside20/year/2013

  35. I’ve seen about 7.000 football games and I don’t know: Must the punter be behind the line of scrimmage, as is the passer? Could a QB pass downfield to a player who would then punt (I can’t see it happening but then I thought the Redskins would beat the Giants.)

    • Replies: @ben tillman
    @Otto the P


    I’ve seen about 7.000 football games and I don’t know: Must the punter be behind the line of scrimmage, as is the passer?
     
    Lots of stuff about punting isn't in the rulebook. For instance, 10 or 12 years ago Ole Miss played at Wyoming. Ole Miss blocked a punt, but the punter recovered it and punted again! I'd never seen anything like that, so I checked the rulebook and couldn't find anything that would permit or prohibit a second punt.
  36. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux
    Wildly off-topic, but TNC goes into potentially interesting areas here regarding Black men and marriage:

    Reading this I kept thinking about how any talk about racism in America ultimately turns to the marriage rates among black women. (Making conversations about racism into conversations about black sexuality is old.) I don't think very many people have thought much about what it means to be a black woman and consider tying yourself to a man living under the system Alexander outlines. As she notes, an appalling number of black men are in the hands of the state.

    Those who push marriage are basically saying, "You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint." Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama's upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: "The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found."
     
    http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/


    Of course, this is all the White Man's fault, but still....

    Replies: @Art Deco, @Art Deco, @Anonymous

    Those who push marriage are basically saying, “You should really consider hitching your life to a man who has higher chance of giving you HIV, who might return to jail, and who might render you homeless because he wants to smoke a joint.” Alexander brings this up explicitly when discussing Obama’s upbraiding on the lack of black fathers: “The media did not ask—and Obama did not tell—where the missing fathers might be found.”

    A lot of the problem, to reference a famous movie line:

    “Where the white women at?”

  37. Priss Factor [AKA "pizza with hot pepper"] says:

    https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=507342549403268

    How about have this kid immigrate to the US?

    Think of the vibrant diversity he will bring to our shores.

  38. No discussion of Australian Rules football is complete without a mention of the Barassi Line.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barassi_Line

  39. The theory that Australian football was derived from Gaelic football became popular in the mid-20th century, despite the fact that Australian football was codified almost 30 years before the Irish game.[31] There is no archival evidence in favour of a Gaelic origin, and the style of play shared between the two modern codes was evident in Australia long before the Irish game evolved in a similar direction

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football#Origins

    It’s more likely Aussie Rules was a parent.
    But, the GAA and the AFL had an International Rules game going for awhile. It’d be interesting to compare the Barassi Line to the Rugby/Gaelic divide in Ireland. I’d hazard a guess it’s got something to do with Anglo %.

    • Replies: @Irishman
    @BubbaJoe

    "But, the GAA and the AFL had an International Rules game going for awhile. It’d be interesting to compare the Barassi Line to the Rugby/Gaelic divide in Ireland. I’d hazard a guess it’s got something to do with Anglo %."

    In Ulster, Rugby is a protestant sport but among the irish Irish in the ROI I don't think this is especially true, the way it is politically for example. But rugby isn't that popular outside south Dublin, Belfast and Limerick anyway, so it doesn't provide much direct competition for Gaelic football. It's very much a top 10% of the income distribution sport.

  40. @Anonymous
    @ 4. RT Rider:

    In Australian Rules Football, like Canadian football, there is no fair catch, so the need for a high trajectory to prevent out-kicking your coverage isn’t as necessary.

     

    The fair catch is known in rugby and in Aussie Rules as a "mark", but in Aussie Rules it's evolved to look very different and has become a central part of the game. If you catch the ball on the fly, you get a free kick. Teams try to advance the ball down a very big field into scoring range by a succession of mark - free kick -mark - free kick. Without any concept of offside, marks are aggressively contested, highlight reel action. Australian teams have recruited former college basketball players from the US for their skill in competing for the high ball.

    AFL club North Melbourne have decided to take a two-year punt on an American college basketballer. Eric Wallace, 24, has impressed enough in a 10-day trial to earn a contract with the Kangaroos.

     

    Two nations separated by a common language: a British/Australian punt is a bet, so taking a punt means taking a risk, the opposite of the American figurative meaning. A footballer under pressure, or a politician trying to avoid a difficult decision, kicks the ball out of the field, which is known as kicking into touch.

    The free kick part of the mark/fair catch exists as a vestigial element in American football..

    Replies: @RT Rider

    Thank you for the clarification. However, in American football, the catch is uncontested, as the receiver indicates the catch by raising his hand over his head. If I understand you correctly, the catch can be contested under Aussie rules, not by tackling, but by competing for the catch?

  41. Well Steve, did you notice that both UCLA and Utah were led by black quarterbacks? That should be more interesting to HBDers than innovations in punting.

    College football is more fun to watch than the NFL, and it seems to have gotten more exciting now that the white monopoly of the quarterback position has been broken by athletic black quarterbacks who dominated this historic Saturday. All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.

    Sure makes all those race realists who were claiming that blacks are too stupid to be quarterbacks look like the stupid ones now. Doesn’t it?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @Bliss

    UCLA's star black quarterback was remarkably immobile, getting sacked 10 times. Maybe he is hurt or maybe he put on some weight. The fans were objecting to the coach calling so few passes, but maybe he knew there was something wrong with Hundley this week.

    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    @Bliss

    Now if only all those black QBs could actually, you know, pass their classes and make the honor role, and actually have a GPA above the level of a first grader.

    But of course, that would be working miracles.

    , @Half Canadian
    @Bliss

    Regarding black quarterbacks, playing QB in college is very different than playing QB in the pros.
    But I do think that there is room for QBs in the pros, but not with the current hip-hop culture that glorifies vulgarity.

    Replies: @Bliss

  42. I saw a variation of his running punting in a Class A (very small schools) playoff game a few years ago. One of the school apparently didn’t have anyone capable of long-snapping, so someone would stand about “shotgun” deep and lateral back to the punter. They would move left or right punting, apparently the “lateraler” would audible depending on his read of how the punt coverage team was set up …

  43. @Bliss
    Well Steve, did you notice that both UCLA and Utah were led by black quarterbacks? That should be more interesting to HBDers than innovations in punting.

    College football is more fun to watch than the NFL, and it seems to have gotten more exciting now that the white monopoly of the quarterback position has been broken by athletic black quarterbacks who dominated this historic Saturday. All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.

    Sure makes all those race realists who were claiming that blacks are too stupid to be quarterbacks look like the stupid ones now. Doesn't it?

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Half Canadian

    UCLA’s star black quarterback was remarkably immobile, getting sacked 10 times. Maybe he is hurt or maybe he put on some weight. The fans were objecting to the coach calling so few passes, but maybe he knew there was something wrong with Hundley this week.

  44. @Steven Wilson
    Everything you say about the nature of punting as performed by American born players is true, but it was not always so.

    Clair Bee was an American coach best known for the success of his basketball teams at Long Island University in the 1930s and 1940s, but he also wrote sports books for boys--the Chip Hilton series.
    In one of those books Bee describes the different punting techniques being taught and practiced. One of the alternate methods was kicking the ball with the toe to make it go end over end rather than attempt to spiral the ball by kicking it with the instep.

    I wonder how much of the uniformity of punting technique can be ascribed to the adoption of the more pointed ball which makes the passing game easier. A photographic essay on the evolution of the current football from the one that Jim Thorpe was so adept at drop kicking would be fascinating.

    Replies: @Gato de la Biblioteca

    The NFL Network did a special on the evolution of the football along with the evolution of the passing game. I believe it was one hour long and aired about a year ago.

    • Replies: @Steven Wilson
    @Gato de la Biblioteca

    Icepick,
    I'll see if I can find that. Again it will be interesting to see if they discuss the effect changing the form of the ball affected the kicking as well as the passing game.

  45. Interesting discussion of various punting techniques at 17:50 of this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWEocllgWAI

  46. @Gato de la Biblioteca
    @Steven Wilson

    The NFL Network did a special on the evolution of the football along with the evolution of the passing game. I believe it was one hour long and aired about a year ago.

    Replies: @Steven Wilson

    Icepick,
    I’ll see if I can find that. Again it will be interesting to see if they discuss the effect changing the form of the ball affected the kicking as well as the passing game.

  47. Australian ( rules ) football is not a derivative of any other game except of course traditional folk or village football although there is plenty of ( lefty ? ) talk of links with aboriginal and Irish games . It came and evolved from Anglo Saxons forming a committee and putting together aspects they knew from various English public school games as a game for cricketers in winter ( hence the oval or circular playing field ).

    In Victorian England there were a number of various football games but only soccer and rugby lasted the distance – a game called Sheffield Rules had ( quite independently ) aspects in common with the Australian game
    Rugby in England had a spin off sport which is now called rugby league which is a small sport in England compared to traditional rugby but a much larger sport in Australia ( where traditional rugby is much smaller )It has always been blue collar in culture unlike rugby union

    Most of Australia’s male sporting talent goes into these two sports -one with basically zero international presence and the other with a very limited one

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @gibb

    "evolved from Anglo Saxons forming a committee"

    That's how pretty much all the world's major sports came about.

  48. @Bliss
    Well Steve, did you notice that both UCLA and Utah were led by black quarterbacks? That should be more interesting to HBDers than innovations in punting.

    College football is more fun to watch than the NFL, and it seems to have gotten more exciting now that the white monopoly of the quarterback position has been broken by athletic black quarterbacks who dominated this historic Saturday. All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.

    Sure makes all those race realists who were claiming that blacks are too stupid to be quarterbacks look like the stupid ones now. Doesn't it?

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Half Canadian

    Now if only all those black QBs could actually, you know, pass their classes and make the honor role, and actually have a GPA above the level of a first grader.

    But of course, that would be working miracles.

  49. “All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.”

    A swarthy Samoan, that is like saying a brown eyed Japanese person.

  50. @gibb
    Australian ( rules ) football is not a derivative of any other game except of course traditional folk or village football although there is plenty of ( lefty ? ) talk of links with aboriginal and Irish games . It came and evolved from Anglo Saxons forming a committee and putting together aspects they knew from various English public school games as a game for cricketers in winter ( hence the oval or circular playing field ).

    In Victorian England there were a number of various football games but only soccer and rugby lasted the distance - a game called Sheffield Rules had ( quite independently ) aspects in common with the Australian game
    Rugby in England had a spin off sport which is now called rugby league which is a small sport in England compared to traditional rugby but a much larger sport in Australia ( where traditional rugby is much smaller )It has always been blue collar in culture unlike rugby union

    Most of Australia's male sporting talent goes into these two sports -one with basically zero international presence and the other with a very limited one

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    “evolved from Anglo Saxons forming a committee”

    That’s how pretty much all the world’s major sports came about.

  51. @Bliss
    Well Steve, did you notice that both UCLA and Utah were led by black quarterbacks? That should be more interesting to HBDers than innovations in punting.

    College football is more fun to watch than the NFL, and it seems to have gotten more exciting now that the white monopoly of the quarterback position has been broken by athletic black quarterbacks who dominated this historic Saturday. All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.

    Sure makes all those race realists who were claiming that blacks are too stupid to be quarterbacks look like the stupid ones now. Doesn't it?

    Replies: @Steve Sailer, @Yojimbo/Zatoichi, @Half Canadian

    Regarding black quarterbacks, playing QB in college is very different than playing QB in the pros.
    But I do think that there is room for QBs in the pros, but not with the current hip-hop culture that glorifies vulgarity.

    • Replies: @Bliss
    @Half Canadian


    Regarding black quarterbacks, playing QB in college is very different than playing QB in the pros.
     
    1. I guess you didn't know that the last Super Bowl was won by a black quarterback, and the Superbowl before that was inches away from being won by another black quarterback. The way things are evolving you can expect to see within a few short years a black majority in the NFL quarterback position.

    2. The last national college championship game was fought between two black quarterbacks, and look at what's coming down the pipeline this year: the best rated quarterbacks, who will be drafted into the NFL, are overwhelmingly black.

    The Affirmative Action that in whites monopolizing the quarterback position cannot survive true competition.

    On the other hand, the easiest and safest jobs in football, kicking and punting, remain a white monopoly...
  52. Ben Graham was an Aussie rules guy who had a long career in the NFL as a punter for the Jets, Saints, Lions and Cardinals until 2012.

  53. @ gibb “Australian ( rules ) football is not a derivative of any other game except of course traditional folk or village football although there is plenty of ( lefty ? ) talk of links with aboriginal and Irish games

    Right, the next sentence after the one I quoted from wikipedia…”Since the 1980s, the theory that Australian football comes from the Aboriginal game of Marn Grook has also gained attention.[33] It is claimed that Tom Wills, growing up amongst Aborigines in Victoria, may have seen or played Marn Grook, and used elements from the game when formulating the laws of Australian football. This, too, has no basis in direct evidence”

    “evolved from Anglo-Saxons forming a committee”

    The same is true for Gaelic Football and Hurling (though both most certainly had uncodified antecedents).

    One of the first modern attempts to standardise the game with a formal, written set of rules came with the foundation of the Irish Hurling Union at Trinity College Dublin in 1879.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurling

  54. “Since American blacks never train to become placekickers and seldom punters, virtually all 64 placekickers and punters in the NFL are white.”

    Steve, the only black field goal kicker I’ve ever seen is the fictional kicker from Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy”, played by the actor was later De’Angelo Barksdale on “The Wire” (and can currently be seen on “The Walking Dead”).

    Speaking of movies, I remember a scene from “Friday Night Lights”; during the championship game between Odessa-Permian and Dallas-Baker, the announcers mention how Baker always goes for two after a touchdown. I believe it’s been mentioned at this blog before how inner city black teams always go for two, since none of their players can be bothered to learn kicking.

  55. @Otto the P
    I've seen about 7.000 football games and I don't know: Must the punter be behind the line of scrimmage, as is the passer? Could a QB pass downfield to a player who would then punt (I can't see it happening but then I thought the Redskins would beat the Giants.)

    Replies: @ben tillman

    I’ve seen about 7.000 football games and I don’t know: Must the punter be behind the line of scrimmage, as is the passer?

    Lots of stuff about punting isn’t in the rulebook. For instance, 10 or 12 years ago Ole Miss played at Wyoming. Ole Miss blocked a punt, but the punter recovered it and punted again! I’d never seen anything like that, so I checked the rulebook and couldn’t find anything that would permit or prohibit a second punt.

  56. All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.

    Bryce Petty is not Black.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    @ben tillman

    Hundley probably took himself out of the Heisman race with the worst 4th quarter 3-and-out I've ever seen: He gets the ball on the 20, down by 3 points and gets sacked three times in a row, his eighth through tenth sacks of the game, leaving the ball 4th and 30 on the 1 foot line. The poor punter has to chip it out hurriedly to keep from getting it blocked, and Utah gets a field goal without a first down and goes on to win by 2.

  57. @BubbaJoe
    The theory that Australian football was derived from Gaelic football became popular in the mid-20th century, despite the fact that Australian football was codified almost 30 years before the Irish game.[31] There is no archival evidence in favour of a Gaelic origin, and the style of play shared between the two modern codes was evident in Australia long before the Irish game evolved in a similar direction

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_rules_football#Origins

    It's more likely Aussie Rules was a parent.
    But, the GAA and the AFL had an International Rules game going for awhile. It'd be interesting to compare the Barassi Line to the Rugby/Gaelic divide in Ireland. I'd hazard a guess it's got something to do with Anglo %.

    Replies: @Irishman

    “But, the GAA and the AFL had an International Rules game going for awhile. It’d be interesting to compare the Barassi Line to the Rugby/Gaelic divide in Ireland. I’d hazard a guess it’s got something to do with Anglo %.”

    In Ulster, Rugby is a protestant sport but among the irish Irish in the ROI I don’t think this is especially true, the way it is politically for example. But rugby isn’t that popular outside south Dublin, Belfast and Limerick anyway, so it doesn’t provide much direct competition for Gaelic football. It’s very much a top 10% of the income distribution sport.

  58. @ben tillman

    All the quarterbacks in running for the Heisman Trophy are african-american, with the exception of a swarthy samoan.
     
    Bryce Petty is not Black.

    Replies: @Steve Sailer

    Hundley probably took himself out of the Heisman race with the worst 4th quarter 3-and-out I’ve ever seen: He gets the ball on the 20, down by 3 points and gets sacked three times in a row, his eighth through tenth sacks of the game, leaving the ball 4th and 30 on the 1 foot line. The poor punter has to chip it out hurriedly to keep from getting it blocked, and Utah gets a field goal without a first down and goes on to win by 2.

  59. @Half Canadian
    @Bliss

    Regarding black quarterbacks, playing QB in college is very different than playing QB in the pros.
    But I do think that there is room for QBs in the pros, but not with the current hip-hop culture that glorifies vulgarity.

    Replies: @Bliss

    Regarding black quarterbacks, playing QB in college is very different than playing QB in the pros.

    1. I guess you didn’t know that the last Super Bowl was won by a black quarterback, and the Superbowl before that was inches away from being won by another black quarterback. The way things are evolving you can expect to see within a few short years a black majority in the NFL quarterback position.

    2. The last national college championship game was fought between two black quarterbacks, and look at what’s coming down the pipeline this year: the best rated quarterbacks, who will be drafted into the NFL, are overwhelmingly black.

    The Affirmative Action that in whites monopolizing the quarterback position cannot survive true competition.

    On the other hand, the easiest and safest jobs in football, kicking and punting, remain a white monopoly…

  60. “The way things are evolving you can expect to see within a few short years a black majority in the NFL quarterback position.”

    Oh look, it’s the quarterback revolution …yet again. Yessir, that Randall Cunningham is really gonna change things.

  61. A punt, like a forward pass, is not legal beyond the line of scrimmage.

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