Open Forum: Which Sport Requires More Strategy: Baseball or Football?

Evan KulhawikContributor IJune 28, 2008

I just heard a radio commercial that plays a lot now, and it was all about whether baseball or football required more strategy. It got me to thinking on the subject, and I still do not have a definitive answer.

There are so many factors in each sport that can sway the decision one way or another.

In baseball, there are a bevy of strategic moves. Pitching changes, pinch hitters, and defensive substitutions are all in-game adjustments to help bolster the squad on the field. But this is just the surface of the strategy involved in the sport.

Of course, stealing bases, bunting, and hitting-and-running are some of the moves that can change the course of a game. Successfully hit-and-run and an inning could be set up for scoring.

However, if the batter misses the pitch, the rally can be killed. Sacrifice bunting plays into this risk-reward factor as well: Give up the out and drive the run in later in the inning, and the manager looks like a genius.

Leave the runner stranded, and the manager will be second-guessed the next day on the local radio shows.

There are also special plays, like the squeeze bunt and what type of defense to play on a bunt. Does a team utilize the wheel play or a straight-up bunt defense?

Baseball, more than any other sport, causes second-guessing. Radio shows love baseball season: they can criticize managers for moves they made, if they indeed backfire.

Baseball strategy is all about the delicate balance between risky and overzealous; between conservative and stagnant.

In football, most of the strategy happens on the sidelines, where we can't see it. Baseball strategy can be seen clearly on the field, whereas in football, if a team scores on a long bomb, we have no idea if the offense knew what was coming, or they got lucky, until after the game is over.

In football, most of the strategy revolves around the type of offense and the type of defense. Does a defense usually run zone coverage? Do they double-team a certain player?

Do they play bump and run on first-and-10 a lot? Do they play a 4-3 formation on running plays usually and a 3-4 formation on passing down?

The offense can counteract this cat-and-mouse game as well. Maybe the defense likes to bump-and-run, so the offense sends a man in motion and on a fade pattern. Maybe the defense runs a zone on a certain down a lot, so the offense uses crossing routes and eats up the soft spots of the zone.

Maybe on second-and-seven, the defense is anticipating a pass, so the offense runs a draw play for big yardage.

The adjustments throughout a football game are endless. Teams adjust to their opponent's tendencies and try to take advantage of mismatches and certain schemes.

There are also other big decisions that can decide a game, like does a team take the 45 yard field goal attempt, or go for it on fourth-and-inches?

So my question is this: which sport, in your mind, takes more strategy? In other words, in which sport does strategy affect the outcome of games the most?