the study of the kicking components within sports

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Philosophy of Kicking

The study of kickology has exploded in popularity for many reasons. Giving it broad appeal is the fact that it encompasses diverse and numerous other fields, including physics, psychology, meteorology, horticulture, geography, statistics, and economics - to name just a few. It offers something for everyone. For those inclined towards pondering philosophical questions, kickology is an obvious pursuit. Over the centuries, many of the big thinkers have grappled with meaning of kicking.

Disclaimer: the following sample references are paraphrases and are not necessarily exact quotes.

“The unexamined kick is not worth kicking”
As with any (Western) philosophical overview, we begin in ancient Greece - the root of many facets of modern civilization, including athletics and sports. Two ball games were played by the Greeks. The rules of Episkyros are unclear, but it apparently allowed the use of hands. Some suggest it may have been similar to Rugby. Two teams played on a field and it involved a ball. Harpaston was played on a field with a center line and end goal line. The object of the game was to pass, kick, or run the ball past the opposing team's goal.

While some Greeks were kicking, others were examining.

Socrates’ belief that we must reflect upon the life we live was partly inspired by the famous phrase inscribed at the shrine of the oracle at Delphi, “Know thyself”. Socrates felt so passionately about the value of self-examination that he closely examined not only his own beliefs and values but those of others as well. More precisely, through his relentless questioning, he forced people to examine their own beliefs.
Self-examination of one's efforts plays a key part in the development of today's kickers. Technology allows a kicker to document and review every physical detail of a kick. Although less tangible and less prevalent, the examination of the mental aspects of kicking are on the rise.

“The life of a kicker is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
If you're looking for the bright and cheery take on things, this is not it:
Hobbes believed we find ourselves living a savage, impossible life without education and the protection of the state. Human nature is bad: we’ll prey on one another in the most vicious ways. No doubt the state imposes on our liberty in an overwhelming way. Yet Hobbes’ claim was that these very chains were absolutely crucial in protecting us from one another.
Modern disciples of Hobbes can certainly find supporting evidence for their dark views in the professional sports industry, and some in amateur sports as well.

“I kick therefore I am”
In a time after the heyday of mob football, but before the advent of soccer and rugby, Descartes was thinking:
Descartes began his philosophy by doubting everything in order to figure out what he could know with absolute certainty. Although he could be wrong about what he was thinking, that he was thinking was undeniable. Upon the recognition that “I think,” Descartes concluded that “I am.” On the heels of believing in himself, Descartes asked, What am I? His answer: a thinking thing (res cogitans) as opposed to a physical thing extended in three-dimensional space (res extensa).
While most kickers probably don't put it in words, nor do they need to, they do know/feel that when kicking, they simply are.

“If a kicker hits a goal in the middle of the forest, but no one is there to see it, does it really count?”
While some have recently suggested that kicking is up to 90% mental, Berkeley saw it as 100% mental.
Berkeley believed that nothing is real but minds and their ideas. Ideas do not exist independently of minds. Through a complicated and flawed line of reasoning he concluded that “to be is to be perceived.” Something exists only if someone has the idea of it. Though he never put the question in the exact words of the famous quotation, Berkeley would say that if a tree fell in the forest and there was no one (not even a squirrel) there to hear it, not only would it not make a sound, but there would be no tree.
In modern times, the answer to the question remains no. Even a field goal witnessed by millions sometimes doesn't count - such as if there is an inadvertent whistle, or a last second timeout called by the scheming opposing coach in an attempt to ice the kicker, or if it is simply a preseason game.

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