Paralysis by analysis. An extreme form of the hesitation induced by either of the prior circumstances. Sometimes the thrower-in just can’t make a decision, either because of his own ambition or his teammates’ lassitude or, in some few cases, a deep-seated psychic disability, possibly induced by early experiences in candy stores. Symptoms here include spasmodic and incomprehensible gestures with one hand, as the other clutches the ball; swift, panicky twisting of the neck, accompanied by bulging eyes; and a crab-like creeping up the pitch (the most common variation on which resembles a beginner’s attempt to tango). Eventually the ball gets tossed semi-randomly onto the pitch etc. etc.
What’s especially curious to me about this ineptitude is that it varies little according to the general level of competition. Premier League throw-ins aren’t all that different than Park District throw-ins, which shouldn’t be possible. And no one seems to be troubled by failure: when a player ignores a teammate right next to him and lauches the ball into a gaggle of distant opponents, the manager just looks on impassively. Among everyone involved there seems to be a settled expectation that a throw-in will result in the other team getting the ball, which perhaps explains why no one tries to get open: Might as well get ready to run back and defend. A vicious circle.
Perhaps the explanation is as simple as this: in a game predicated on what you do to control a ball with your feet while angry strong people kick at your shins and shove you in the back, no one has the cognitive surplus (to coin a phrase) to think much about what you do with your hands. But it’s time for that to change. This is getting embarrassing. At least it ought to be.
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