Friday, August 5, 2016

Lives of Our Leaders: Surge Protection

photo: Paranoid
When you watch a race like the Tour de France you see varying strategies that are used, but there are two which stand out. The first is what we might call the surge protector, after the electrical device which prevents overload. In this case a competitor asserts his hegemony over the pack almost from the beginning. The advantage is, of course, psychological. The top dog forces others out of their comfort zone. The danger is that he or she (if we are talking of other sports) will tire and lose their mojo. The second involves pacing or drafting. The pretender to the throne or podium (if we are talking the tour) “drafts,” say the leader, waiting for the right moment, usually close to the finish when he can sustain a quick surge ahead. The disadvantage is that you allow your adversary to dictate the pace from the start, allowing him or her to perform in an area that he or she's familiar with. Furthermore you don’t get to rattle them until the very end. In boxing a similar idea is expressed in the difference between those who like to box or brawl. A boxer is usually a counterpuncher, who uses his opponent’s own strength against him. The boxer waits to see what the other guy is going to do. A good brawler, on the other hand, comes in fighting and if effective will so demoralize his counterpart that the fight will be over before it starts. We know who is going to box and who is going to fight amongst the two candidates for the presidency. The only question is which one will possess what's known as ring generalship, a term which accounts for a competitor’s ability to control the way the contest is being waged.

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