March 17, 2017

I like the way the NYT is asking the basketball questions I ask.

"Why Are Basketball Games So Squeaky?"

I also like that the answer involves lobsters, because that's the way I am, thinking of something to say about basketball only to get leverage into something — anything — that could hold my interest... in its cold hard claw....
To scare away predators, [spiny lobsters] rub a smooth, rubbery protrusion at the base of each antenna against the smooth, hard part of their heads.

The result is an audible squawk. The spiny lobster became the first known example among animals of the stick-slip phenomenon, a deeply studied principle of science and engineering. It is when two relatively smooth or flat surfaces become repeatedly stuck and unstuck by the forces of friction, creating a vibration that becomes a noise....

“The herringbone structures of the [basketball] shoe outsole are induced to vibrate at their low-order natural frequencies by stick-slip contact with the surface,” Shorten and his research partner Xia Xi concluded.
They can make non-squeaky shoes, but basketball players don't like them. They want the squeak — "They listen for it. It gives them that audio sense of reassurance that they’re sticking."

Wisconsin players especially like the squeak. It gives them that reassuring feeling of cheese curds.

18 comments:

E Hines said...

It's also a way to track where the other players, of both teams, are without having to look at them.

Eric Hines

Ann Althouse said...

Meade watches a LOT of basketball. But he almost always watches with the sound off!

Laslo Spatula said...

"“The herringbone structures of the [basketball] shoe outsole are induced to vibrate at their low-order natural frequencies by stick-slip contact with the surface..."

This Design doesn't translate well to condoms.

I am Laslo.

MadisonMan said...

We had Cheese Curds at Gates & Brovi last night. They're up there with my favorite in town. Of course, when you cook 'em, they lose their squeak, but you can still tell they're fresh.

If we're up towards the Twin Cities, we always stop at Ellsworth for curds.

I'm coasting towards a heart attack, I know, but I love me some cheese.

JLScott said...

They included the lobster BS so NYT readers can tell themselves that they are broadening their minds with something deep while reading about something trivial.

Achilles said...

Basketball is so boring anyways.

Yancey Ward said...

I played basketball most of my life up until I was in my early 40s. Just thinking about playing without the sounds of the shoes on the court is disconcerting to me, and I don't think it is because of the sounds of my own shoes telling me I am "sticking"- you use the sound at an unconscious level to determine, for example, if the person who just passed behind you stopped and changed direction once out of your eyesight.

I also often watch the games on television with the sound off, but that is because of the idiotic commentary.

Yancey Ward said...

And Laslo once again hits the winning shot from 3 point range.

Achilles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quaestor said...

"They listen for it. It gives them that audio sense of reassurance that they’re sticking."

...or playing the 1812 Overture on musical mice.

Otto said...

The reason Mead turns off the audio is like me he is sick of the "color" announcers. This blog is silly. As a basketball player you want the most traction from your sneakers for quick moves, so the squeak is a quick albeit not scientific feedback signal indicating that the sole Threads have not worn. It is much like the thread on your car tires. A more scientific method is to measure the thread size like they do with tires. Sounds like a useful tool for the NBA.

Quaestor said...

But [Meade] almost always watches with the sound off!

A wise choice as there's little to hear but inane commentary from marginally literate ex-players. Little or no squeaking to be heard.

That's what sports TV has become — bracketed in every temporal dimension by endless stupidity. The pre-game show. The post game show. The ads, ads, ads. Sports bar owners pay barrels of cash to have ESPN, the poor saps.

Quaestor said...

This blog is silly.

This bog? The whole enchilada? A bit peremptory, no?

lgv said...

The squeak drives my SO bonkers. She requires I turn the sound off, or else she must exit the area.

rehajm said...

There's a variation of basketball for people who don't like the squeaky sounds. It's called fishing.

MadisonMan said...

Coming soon to the NYTimes: Why does snow squeak, and why won't we hear it in a warming world?

J.R. Marr said...

I have a theory - had it for years, actually - that there's a sound guy in the booth who is responsible for cranking up the squeak track at various times throughout the game. This is more noticeable in NBA games. It's not about the squeak volume, rather the intensity. Next time you watch a game, notice that there's a low level of squeaking going on even when everyone is just standing around. And when a play starts, the squeak-tensity surges to a level way beyond what is reasonable for the number of shoes on the floor.

Rick Turley said...

"cheese curds"

One of the very few things I miss about being a FIB is the quarterly trips across the Cheddar Curtain for cheese curds, summer sausages, and kringles.