Thursday, September 26, 2013

Football penalties and Zeno's paradox

Zeno's paradox was framed in the context of Achille's racing a tortoise, giving the tortoise a small head start, Achille's will never catch the tortoise because he has to travel 1/2 the way to where the tortoise is currently, and then 1/4 to get halfway to the halfway point, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64, etc.  So there's an infinite set of steps that Achille's must accomplish in order to just reach the halfway point so he'll never get there.

Similarly, in football, a team holding a lead would be wise to continually commit penalties against the offense, allowing the offense to move 1/2 the distance to the goal ad infinitum, and thus never allowing the offensive team to score, preserving the lead and eventually winning the game.