Friday, 13 January 2012

Titi and Time Dilation

One of the oddities you notice as a football fan is the extent to which space-time is warped within the bowl of the stadium.

When Thierry Henry came on as sub in last Monday's game against Leeds, I could sense everyone on and off the pitch mentally assessing his ability to put one foot in front of the other without falling over. When he (finally) started a light canter, the entire crowd seemed to catch its breath, worried perhaps that his hips were about to pop.

He's bald, he's got a proper beard, he must be ancient. I was sure he was older than me, and probably not much fitter, though the official data reveals that he's young enough to be my son, assuming I'd started breeding at 17.

When the magical moment came and he was through on goal, I was genuinely confused as to whether it was he or I who was about to have a heart attack.

I had a not dissimilar experience, over an extended period of time, when watching Steve Bould. Despite repeatedly checking the biographical stats in the players' yearbook, I couldn't reconcile what I could see on the pitch (a prematurely balding bloke with Clint Eastwood's range of facial emotion) with the fact that he was two years younger than me.

Clearly time passes much more quickly on the pitch than in the stands, despite the heroic efforts of various opposition keepers to slow it down. What's not clear is whether this is due to the greater velocity of the players or the greater gravitational mass of the crowd. Hmmm.

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