The Physics of Sport
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
One popular science TV show in the UK suggested that David Beckham was a master of differential calculus in the way he scored goals. Beckham, who played for such major soccer teams as Real Madrid and LA Galaxy, was a master of the curling free kick that could fool defenders and goal keepers, as the ball bent around them into the net. He did not have the reputation, however, of a master mathematician.
If one were mathematically to describe the trajectory of the ball as it left Beckham’s foot, the math would be pretty sophisticated. The equation would include g – the acceleration due to gravity. But a large number of other factors would have been in Mr. Beckham’s head. These would include information from his eyes about the positions of various defenders, the power of his foot on the ball, and the positioning of the point of contact that would produce exactly the right amount of spin. Perhaps some peripheral constants would include the material and method of manufacture of his boots.
There is no doubt that David Beckham’s experience and talent would have informed his decision about how to kick the ball. Few would expect him to plot the trajectory on paper or give details about the nature of the equation described above.
Whether they would acknowledge this or not, God gave athletes like David Beckham their talents, and God gave them the means to develop their soccer brains to enable them to judge how, why and where to kick the ball. And God gave other people the means and tools to be able scientifically to analyze their actions.
Prayer: We are amazed, Lord, at the sporting talents that You have given some people, and how they have developed those talents. Thank You for those sportsmen and women who do acknowledge You and who give You the glory. Amen.
Ref: “Bending” a Soccer Ball, < https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/straj.html >, accessed 8/30/2017. Image: NASA, Public Domain.
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