September 21, 2015
Kim and I watched the first half of the Brown's game yesterday.
It wasn't the prettiest football in the world, but it was a win.
It's so easy to criticize the team for poor play but as you compete on a bigger and bigger stage the little things become more and more important.
In american football the degree of accuracy for a top quarterback's throw goes up at each level.
A young quarterback in middle school is often praised for distance over accuracy. By high school the quarterback is mixing up plays a bit more. The field of play has widened a bit. The receivers go wide in addition to long. Then again, if you drop back five to seven yards and throw it fifteen yards down field and thirty yards to the right or left for a ten yard gain, the ball has travelled thirty-three and a half yards to get there.
By college the defense has gotten faster and smarter. The quarterback has to throw more accurately or it will be dropped or intercepted. By the pros, the ball has to be thrown to exactly where the receiver is going to be by the time the ball gets there. The receiver shouldn't have to reach for the ball and they shouldn't have to change their stride.
The margin for error is very small.
I heard analysis of my local pro football team say "They're not very good this year." The announcer said that actually the problem isn't that the team is so bad. The problem is that a game can be decided by as few as five plays. Our team is as good as other teams for most of the game. They just don't have the ability to make those five plays that would elevate and distinguish them.
Thankfully, you and I compete in a different world.
We aren't writing the books that will line the display cases in airport bookstores.
Maybe you are. I'm not.
I am, however, playing pro ball.
My prose needs to be tight. My examples need to be well-honed. I need to set the play in motion and I need to know not only where the reader is but where they'll be by the time the ball gets there.
I need to give them what they need so that they need only open their arms and there it is. They shouldn't have to speed up or slow down. It should lead to a lot of yardage gained.
You are the quarterback.
You set the play in motion and tell your reader to go long. They run a perfect route and your tightly constructed example lands neatly in their hands without them breaking stride.