Love and Basketball: Understanding Hall & Oates's "One On One"

Share |

Today is Valentine's Day, a time for love and romance. Sports leagues, however, do not kindly stop for the holiday, or even acknowledge it. Athletic competition inhabits a world of direct conflict and short-order discord; its gestures towards love are clumsy and unconvincing. So it's up to the artists of emotion to bring their sensibility to sports, if there's to be a working marriage between the two.

Sometimes, sadly, it turns out just as poorly. Hall and Oates' 1982 hit "One on One" is one of the most famous songs combining love and sports: it was featured in one of the NBA's most famous commercials and employs its basketball metaphor so aggressively that it could be about the sexual tension between two teammates. On other hand, that metaphor is so imprecise in practice that it suggests a neophyte's understanding of the game. The following line-by-line analysis attempts to discover what could possibly be happening in the song's basketball world.

I'm tired of playing on the team

It seems I don't get time out anymore

The biggest and most consistent problem with the song is its definition of "time out." While any basketball fan would consider the phrase to be a stoppage of play, the team context suggests that "time out" is in fact playing time, in the sense that being on a team with a deep roster restricts Hall's minutes. He's tired of playing with Oates and would prefer to be a star on his own.

What a change if we set the pace face to face

No one even trying to score

It's at this point that the entire basketball concept begins to break down. Pace is a major factor in a team's style of play, and perhaps the previous "time out" is in fact a coach's timeout, at which point Hall and his coach (who's also his love interest?) will change their strategy for the game. Also note that this idea makes no sense if "time out" refers to playing time, because there is no need for a player not in the game to set the pace, unless that pace involves his ability to fit in lots of congratulatory pats on the back during the aforementioned coach's timeout.

The reference to not even trying to score makes no sense if the team has also tried to speed up the game—a faster pace leads to more points. Hall must want to slow down the pace to something impossibly slow, then, in which case they must be playing anything other than NBA or NCAA women's basketball, the only two American organizations to use a shot clock at the time.

Oh oh I can feel the magic of your touch

And when you move in close a little bit means so much

Ooh yeah, you've got to understand, baby

Time out is what I'm here for

Hall likes a game with quite a bit of contact. If "time out" refers to playing time, then he wouldn't even want to play in a game without that physicality. And yet it might still be a matter of sitting on the sidelines during a stoppage in play, because the exact meaning of the term still hasn't been made clear.

One on one I want to play that game tonight

One on one I want to play that

One on one I want to play that game tonight

One on one so slow

Finally, Hall explicitly says that he wants to play pickup one-on-one ball, leaving the organized structure of the team for something a little truer to the game he feel in love with in the first place. And yet he wants to play it slow, without scoring, which seems against the very concept of the format. One-on-one represents basketball in its most baldly competitive form, pitting one player against another in a clear test of which player has more skills and talent. There's no reason to play a physical brand of one-on-one if no one wants to score. Why wouldn't the two players just set up some rebounding drills?

You can't tell me you don't miss me, girl

I think I might know you too well

Wonder what you'd say if you knew that I was coming tonight

Want to? I want you can't you tell

He will be visiting the playground unannounced, so it has quite possibly been some time since he's played outside of the team format. This lack of notice suggests that he feels removed from that past game, to the point where he'll only feel comfortable again when he's there. His main reason for going, though, is to play this girl, who became such a regular opponent that he knew her moves and tendencies too well. In some way, then, Hall seeks a competitive game, one that can continue to challenge him. This statement contradicts the previous point that keeping score isn't the point.

He somehow wants both proof of his value as an athlete and to play for the love of the game. Those goals aren't mututally exclusive, but the participants have to agree on what kind of game they're playing. When the player organizing the game in the first place can't figure that out, those goals become dreams rather than likelihoods.

One on one I want to play that game tonight

One on one I want to play that

One on one I want to play that game tonight

One on one so slow

In this new context of indecision, the chorus takes on a newfound measure of sadness. Hall continues to refer to "that game," but he can't even decide exactly which game he wants to play. There's a desire for a certain form of basketball, and yet he can't articulate it. How can he ever find someone to play with when he can't figure out what he wants?

That's all you need to know now

But what is the other player supposed to know? Hall has failed to explain himself. It's as if he expects the girl to understand him perfectly while an obvious communication breakdown exists. It's a form of denial, almost as if he wants to absolve himself of blame for the game's failure before it even starts.

'Cause if it's really right there's nothing else

Now the meaning becomes a little clearer. What Hall wants is for the importance and format of his game to become immediately clear to the other player. It's a basketball version of fate. Except, as noted previously, he's already played with this person and had things turn out poorly. If fate were the answer, things would've worked out in the past. It's a childish response to a real problem, one that needs substantive effort to fix.

One on one I want to play that game tonight (repeat until fade out)

And yet Hall never acknowledges that need for mature consideration, instead focusing on his desires and hoping they come true. They're never answered: the song ends with no game, not even a meeting between the two players. He wants more, but that want isn't enough without putting in the work to make it a reality.

Share |

Comments

Thanks for sharing, this can be a fantastic article.Really looking forward to study more. Really Great. Wonderful article.Really looking forward to read more. Hold writing. Im obliged for the website post.Really many thanks! Awesome.
montascale in Toscana

Loved just of one's website post.Thanks Again. Actually Cool. Actually appreciate you discussing this post.Thanks Again. Fantastic. Good blog.Really getting excited about read more. Awesome. If you want to play "Poker" you can checkout these Websites and Enjoy it !
game online capsa susun
onlinepoker99
pokerqiuqiu
domino uang asli
situs poker online asia
qqpoker online
master poker99
gaple online uang asli

mls eastern conference standings
Thank you for your article.Thanks Again. Great.

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. discover stuff

Getting excited about studying more. Great article.Really thank you! Many thanks very for you post.Really getting excited about study more. I value the article.Really thank you! Significantly obliged.
Cara Daftar Poker

Actually enjoyed this article post.Really looking towards read more. Can study on...Thank you for your blog post.Much thanks again. Actually Cool.Major thanks for the post. Need more.
http://freoli.dk/4-mest-populaere-alufaelge/

Actually enjoyed this article post.Really looking towards read more. Can study on...Thank you for your blog post.Much thanks again. Actually Cool.Major thanks for the post. Need more.
http://freoli.dk/4-mest-populaere-alufaelge/

Actually enjoy you discussing this post.Really thanks! Need more.Awesome blog.Much thanks again. Need more.I appreciate you sharing that website article.Really thanks! Really Great.
http://flatpanels.dk/flatforum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=40893

Great, thanks for sharing this article post.Really thank you! Keep writing.
Michael Kors Handbags

Thanks-a-mundo for the blog.Really thank you! Cool.
Best Massage Chair In The World

Great blog.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.
A Complete Guide To Buying Massage Chair

Thanks for the blog post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.
cheap essays writing service

Getting excited about examining more. Great article post.Really thanks! Much obliged.
Shoppable Magazine

Really enjoy you sharing that post.Really looking forward to study more. Awesome.
Guangzhou sourcing agent

Actually enjoy you discussing that article.Really looking towards study more. Really Great.
honest massage chair reviews

I must say i recognize that blog article.Really looking towards read more. Significantly obliged.
cheapest essays

Really informative article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.
Happy Makar Sankranti 2018 Wishes

I cannot thank you enough for the blog.Really many thanks!
Fantastic.
Love myself status messages

Many thanks for the article. Really Cool.
Tweakbox app

Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Till then I enjoying your content.
Busqueda y localización de personas.

Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Till then I enjoying your content.
Busqueda y localización de personas.

Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Till then I enjoying your content.
Detectives Madrid baratos

Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Till then I enjoying your content.
detective privado Madrid

Whoa I won't found any blog/article like this before in my full life.I will can tell the others to see and always check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Till then I enjoying your content.
detectives en Madrid

Wow I dont found any blog/article similar to this before in my whole life.I may can inform the others to see and check this blog/article. Might God assist you to in future. Until then I experiencing your content. :D
solarmovie

Thanks so much for the blog.Thanks Again. Much obliged.
Politics current news

Wow I dont found any blog/article like this before in my whole life.I will shall tell others to see and check this blog/article
Rishta Online

Awesome article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.
adsense sandbox

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Weight Gaining Course

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Rishta Online

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.
Multani Sohan Halwa

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. dentures toronto

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

I like your Article and it very informative to me and Very Good . So keep sharing this type of article .
Infinity Gamers

A debt of gratitude is in order for the site stacked with such a variety of data. Halting by your website assisted me with getting what I was searching for.
china freight forwarder

Very informative blog post.Really thank you! Really Great.
inontv

Great post i must say and thanks for the information. Education is definitely a sticky subject. However, is still among the leading topics of our time. I appreciate your post and look forward to more. สล็อตออนไลน์ได้เงินจริง

Im grateful for the blog post. Want more.
Jamu Susuk Dara

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. carpet protection

First You got a great blog .I will be interested in more similar topics. i see you got really very useful topics.
yoga meditation

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.
yoga meditation

Excellent read, Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. cursos terapias natural

Thanks for sharing this interesting blog with us.My pleasure to being here on your blog..I wanna come beck here for new post from your site.
investigadores privados Madrid