A Football Analogy

9/22/2007 10:43 am
There seems to be a strange momentum that affects both the Super Bowl and military conflicts, especially in the late 19th and early 20th century.

It is hard to pick a Super Bowl winner in advance. The teams have rarely played each other and infrequently played the same opponents. The games do not often go the way of the odds-maker, yet they are almost never close games. The team the scores the first touchdown goes on to win 3 out of 4 times often by a wide margin but nobody can be certain in advance which team that will be.

This also seems to happen in warfare, especially in the later 19th century. The Mexican War (1846), the Franco-Prussian War (1870), the Russo-Japanese War (1904) are just a few examples. The Mexican War had a new nation with a newly organized and inexperienced army against an established and experienced European-style military. The Franco-Prussian War had a small isolated state against a major power under the leadership of a Napoleon. The Russo-Japanese War had another major power with a long European military tradition against a small “uncivilized” Asian nation. Yet the results of these conflicts were very one-sided. In retrospect it seems obvious, but prediction is another matter.

Is it accident? Is it preparation? Morale or esprit? An ability to take advantage of circumstances that present themselves? Probably some combination of all of them. But it does seem to defy accurate prediction.

~ by severalfourmany on September 22, 2007.

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