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Fun Fact: Basketball, Hockey, and Football Are All the Same Sport

You may laugh at this title as a desperate attempt to string together three current events before the endless summer sports slump, but by the end of this blog you will have no choice but to agree with the clearly correct conclusion that my highly developed sports mind has reached. Some may call this bird-brained hot-shot interaction bait, but the truth is I have watched enough hours of every sport to see the truth, and anyone who disagrees with me is not as smart as I am. I truly feel sorry for you.

“But Jacob, one sport is played with your hands, another is forbidden with your hands, and the third one is played with a strange stick,” some of you may be babbling incoherently. You naive people. You absolute fools. This is the definition of missing the forest for the trees. Open your third eye and look deeper into the essence of each sport, and you will experience an epiphany that will lead you to the same empirically correct position that I have reached.

Let’s stop joking and get serious: basketball, hockey, and soccer are, from a basic philosophical standpoint, undeniably the same sport. One team teams up to put an object in a goal while the other team tries to stop them. The playing surfaces and rules are different, but the basic dynamics remain the same, and this produces very similar tactics and strategies across all three sports.

All three use the same basic defensive tactics as an organizational principle. Basketball’s shift from two big men and three wing players to a four-out style changes this dynamic a bit, but the basic principle of putting two big bad guys close to the goal to prevent the other team from scoring remains the same. While most soccer formations feature two defenders, and hockey centers around two defensemen protecting the net and setting up the three forwards for the offense, the Minnesota Timberwolves have proven this year that the best NBA defense is still the one where you put your two biggest guys close to the basket.

There is much more variety in offense, as the specifics of each sport influence tactics, but the basic formation of the offense remains the same. Whether it’s the famous Spanish Tiqui-taca style, the Edmonton Oilers’ unstoppable power play, or Phil Jackson’s Triangle Offense, a formation where the ball/puck carrier has two direct outlets on either side of him is a very common and effective tactic in all three sports.

“Okay, okay Jacob, you make some valid points, but is it the same sport? Come on.”

Again, I can’t help but feel sorry for you small-minded sports fans who allow old-world materialism to blind you to the collective spirit of these beautiful games. Every time Splinter‘s official athlete Nikola Jokic finds an open man who cuts to the net, Lionel Messi smiles. When rightful Conn Smythe Trophy winner Connor McDavid stuns another defender to add another point to the scoreboard, Steph Curry can’t help but reach out from the ether to fist bump him in solidarity.

At the most detailed level, all team sports share the same dynamic, which is generally centered on creating space in efficient ways. The play-action play in football is the most vivid example of this principle, as the fake handoff to the running back is designed to draw the defenders and safeties closer to the line of scrimmage in order to create space for a receiver to run into the open spot behind them. As a fundamental offensive organizing principle in basketball, hockey, and soccer, the triangle reinforces its role as a fundamental aspect of engineering, and also serves the purpose of pushing the defense out of the space the offense wants to enter.

Sports are a universal language. Football has spread throughout the world due to both colonialism and its simple rules and low cost, and basketball has followed suit as it has established itself as a truly global game in the American century. Hockey’s equipment will always make it much more expensive and thus less likely to take over the world as football has, but the fact that it has spread to almost every corner of the world proves that it adheres to the same universal principles that make basketball and football so popular.

In conclusion, I accept your apology, dear reader. I know this title seems designed solely to troll you, but the logic presented is so clear that I can assume that every single person reading this agrees with me right now. Football, basketball, and hockey are the same sport, and anyone who thinks otherwise just needs to open their third eye.