Volume 95, Issue 18

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
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Warriors trample the Mustangs

Queen's gets revenge

Prototypes - the world of sport's ultimate fallacy

Swinging in Stratford


Prototypes - the world of sport's ultimate fallacy

For whome the bell tolls
Jordan Bell
Sports Editor

How many times have you heard about the prototypical quarterback? A six-foot-three, 220 pound signal-caller who can sit back in the pocket and show off his cannon of an arm?

Prototypes abound in every sport. Coaches and management cling to this steadfast belief that certain physical attributes create a great athlete. The professional sports brass go as far as possible to create this illusion.

The Buffalo Bills are a prime example. The Bills were so intent on making believers of the prototype, they let the most charismatic, athletic quarterback in the league escape their grasp without even a whimper.

Doug Flutie brought more to the city in two years than prototypical quarterback Rob Johnson could possibly bring in a career – not to mention a winning percentage that equals San Francisco's legendary quarterback Joe Montana.

The fallacy of the prototype is evident in all the major sports. The experts create a set of rules and when those rules cease to exist in terms of success, they trash them and create new ones to cover up their faulty beliefs.

Basketball minds once put forth a notion that the best guards in the league would be taller, physically strong men who could back their opponents down in the post, much like Michael Jordan and Anfernee Hardaway.

But with the emergence of players like Allen Iverson – a mite compared to the larger guards in the league – the prototype has been sent packing. Eventually the prototype will probably change to include speed and ball handling wizardry as prerequisites for greatness.

When big and burly Eric Lindros emerged with the Philadelphia Flyers, everyone in hockey was throwing out the notion that teams with physically strong and over-sized players would be successful.

The Canadian game changed pace and attempted to discover this new-found standard. Then, European speedsters came onto the scene and stole the Canadian game and destroyed preconceived ideas of talent.

As baseball, the great American pastime moves into the new millennium, everyone is scrambling to find monstrous, home run hitting behemoths to fuel their offensive prowess. It is believed in the day of the long ball, if you possess one of these Mark McGwire types, you will be successful.

Contrary to all beliefs, the NY Yankees are once again eating up the competition with their ground-ball hitting, base-stealing players.

Further, baseball minds now believe (as evident by a recent Sports Illustrated feature) tall, fastball-launching pitchers are the mode of the future. But continuously, pitchers such as Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine win big ball games with their repertoire of off-speed pitches.

Heart is a vastly underestimated commodity in the world of athletics. Too often people are looking for that hero with visibly evident characteristics. Everyone knows that in the Hollywood circle, Russell Crowe and his gladiator act don't exist in the real world. Greatness comes from the ones who beat the odds and lay every facet of themselves on the field – athletes who don't have to fit the scale.

Somewhere Flutie is smiling.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001