"So I'm aiming this book at fans, players, and coaches who love football so much that they're even willing to tackle some physics to increase their enjoyment of the game. It is my sincere hope that after a while they'll start to find the physics as much fun as I do." (from the Introduction, p. 9)After the Preface and Introduction I thought this would end up being a great book I could heartily recommend to football fan and physics fan alike. Unfortunately, things went quickly downhill from there, and I found myself not enjoying the football or the physics, for the most part, thereafter. To put it simply, I was bored.
Other books I was reading became far more interesting and I only made it a little past halftime, electing to punt after about 155 pages and not pick it up again. I can't imagine anyone really enjoying this book from cover to cover. There are mildly interesting parts, like the differences in distance a punt or kick will travel due to the differing elevations. But, overall, it is a dull read and flawed for its simpleness.
Should a defensive back run to where the moving offensive player is now or where the player is going to be when the defensive player can get there? Obviously, the latter. We don't need physics to shed light on such things. Doing so over a series of pages is nothing but monotonous.
I'll point out one more example of this and then wrap up this review, leaving it short and to the point. On page 140, Gay asserts that it would have been impossible for Jason Elam or Tom Dempsey to kick their monster field goal kicks at over 99 miles per hour. Here is how he puts it:
We are forced to conclude that either a) the drag coefficient we are using for tumbling motion is too high; b) the kicks that Dempsey and Elam made contained some component of spiraling motion, thereby reducing the drag coefficient; or c) the atmospheric density was extremely low on the days Dempsey and Elam kicked their record-setting field goals.Yawn. Or maybe, just maybe, they had the wind at their backs? After all, coaches don't trot their kickers out there to kick 60+ yard field goals unless they think they have a possibility of making it. And a stiff breeze coming from behind them may give them a glimmer of hope. My explanation, not even considered by Gay, sounds far more probably and worthy of consideration than a field goal kicker kicking a spiral--something nobody has witnessed to my knowledge.
The best part of the book is that the cover is partially made to look and feel like a football. Now that's cool. The contents on the other hand...
from the publisher:
What effect does altitude have on the flight of a kicked ball? How do Newton's laws of motion apply to blocking and tackling? What does the science of physics reveal to us about the optimal chase strategies for defensive backs? In this entertaining book, physics professor Dr. Timothy Gay makes science comprehensible and fun while deepening our appreciation for the strategic nuances of this deceptively simple game.