Then how come we’re not winning?
We are intrigued by the final 3.9 seconds of Sunday night’s 01-09-22 Wisconsin Badger basketball victory over Maryland.
Leading 70 to 69, Badger free throw shooter Brad Davison, owning an 88% success rate, purposely missed. On the face of it, that would give Maryland a chance to win with a two-point basket. Except that, had Wisconsin made the free throw, the game clock stops and Maryland gets the ball out of bounds and possibly goes on to tie or win with a 3-point basket. You can run hither and yon like that old scrambling QB Fran Tarkenton looking for an open receiver for a pass down court. The clock does not resume until a player touches it in bounds.
Because Davison missed his free throw, Maryland was required to gather the rebound and move the ball down court, contested, the clock ticking all the while. “The Terps” (love that nickname) had to throw up a desperation heave at half court. Missed badly. Badgers win.
Football has the same dynamic. Your opponent is on your one-yard line with a fresh set of downs in the final seconds. A touchdown and point-after kick puts them up by one or two points. You can play defense for all four downs but odds are they score anyway, the clock expires, and you go into the locker room a loser. The alternative is to play matador and wave them into the end zone with minimal loss of clock. If you’ve got, say, Aaron Rodgers and Davonte Adams on the field, you feel reasonably good about getting in field goal range to win the game. (Well, maybe not this year.)
Not sure there’s a baseball equivalent. Defensive indifference? Runner steals second base without a throw because you’ve got two outs and are up by two runs anyway. (Not really.) Muhammed Ali’s rope a dope in the Rumble in the Jungle ?
In warfare, it might be the strategic retreat. Lose the battle, win the war. Washington and then Bobby Lee did that to a T. Tire out the other side. Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam?
We’re admittedly scratching like a rabid rooster for a political example but it might be this: running for office knowing that you can’t win. (Blaska for Madison school board calling for a return to discipline in the classroom and race-neutral policies?) There’s a certain freedom in telling the truth without having to bowderlize your message in order to curry favor with benighted voters. That’s losing the election but winning the argument.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: There’s probably some arcane, Beautiful Mind kind of economic theory that describes purposefully blowing it in the short term only to win the war but the gray lab coats staged another work action. In their absence, can anyone in the peanut gallery tell us what that theory might be?
UPDATE: Platinum subscriber “One Eye” suggests we’re talking a game theory called the prisoner’s dilemma. Both the Chargers and Raiders would have advanced to the NFL playoffs if their game Sunday night resulted in a tie (and a lot of other Ifs depending on other scores). The Wall Street Journal explored the phenomenon, remarking, “It raises the outlandish possibility that both teams could spend the game kneeling, punting or spiking the football with designs of a 0-0 tie.”