Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
This comic is a direct reference to the film Air Bud. In the film, a golden retriever becomes the star player on a basketball team. The opposing team contests the legality of having a dog as a player, but the referee, having reviewed the rulebook, responds "Ain't no rule says a dog can't play basketball." Here, the opposing team turns the rulebook loophole against the first team. Because rulebooks are considered the final arbiter of decisions in most sports, Ponytail suggests that, since it isn't explicitly prohibited, her team is allowed to kill and eat the dog. Randall is using this logical fallacy to highlight the absurdity of the plot of Air Bud and other similar movies in which ordinary animals take on human roles. At the same time, Randall has created an absurd and anticlimactic premise for such a movie, and he may be making a more general commentary on Hollywood's habit of making movies by combining basic tropes that, by themselves, tend to do well in the box office.
The title text acknowledges that killing and eating the dog would result in a foul (interfering inappropriately with other players), but the benefit of committing the foul (the star player being dead and out of the game) would be worth the resulting penalty (giving the other team a couple of free throws). This of course ignores any local laws that could cover the proposed killing, such as animal cruelty laws. Randall is poking fun at the common practice of intentional fouls, something that happens particularly often in basketball. Although a foul is by definition against the rules, a team may deliberately break those rules and accept the penalty in order to gain some perceived advantage. For example, in association football (soccer), a player may intentionally foul an opposing player with a strong attack to allow his team to regroup and increase its defensive position, starting with blocking the resulting free kick. In basketball, an intentional foul can stop the clock and turn over the ball, or may simply give the team time to rest and/or discuss strategy that it otherwise may not have had.
The dog in the comic is wearing a jersey with the number 9. In Air Bud, the dog wore a jersey with "K" on one side and "9" on the other, forming "K-9", a popular shortening of the word "canine".
Randall previously parodied the "animal-as-player" loophole in 115: Meerkat. Rule books are also mentioned in 330: Indecision, 393: Ultimate Game, and 1593: Play-By-Play.
- [Cueball and Megan are standing with a dog wearing jersey number 9, Ponytail and Hairy are facing them holding a rulebook. The horizon is visible behind them.]
- Ponytail: There's nothing in the rulebook that says we can't kill and eat your dog.
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Doesn't the law forbid harming another's domestic animal? --Tepples (talk) 05:20, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Well, probably not absolutely, because self-defense against dangerous dogs is rarely prosecuted as far as I know. The question's moot though - if we're being really realistic, we need to also account for the fact that Bud is probably playing uninsured, that he's definitely either not maintaining the minimum GPA for organised sports or not even enrolled in the school and thus someone is committing fraud, probably a couple of things about yelling and cheering at a dog in a big bright room at scheduled times, idk if that counts as cruelty but I'd hate it. And that's assuming he's had all his shots and stuff, otherwise it's like, reckless endangerment of any child who hasn't already suffered through a bout of Dog Mites or whatever they have (disclaimer: not a vet)184.108.40.206 00:34, 30 November 2015 (UTC)
- Yes. Yes it does. So, basically, the rulebook of the country says they cannot do it. It could have been a great cartoon if he had picked an example that was actually legal. 220.127.116.11 05:50, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Well, technically (1475: Technically) the law isn't part of any rule book... Unless there is a law (or rule) which says otherwise. (edit: That doesn't mean the law wouldn't apply nevertheless!)Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 06:15, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Does this law exist in every country? The dog is on property owned by the sports venue in an unspecified country.18.104.22.168 08:23, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Slaughter is not technically harming, otherwise we would not be able to eat beef, pork, .. -- and yes some people _do_ eat dogs (and cats) Spongebog (talk) 13:48, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- If an animal enters your premise and is not a protected species, you may kill it. If the owners wanted it alive they shouldn't have let it illegally trespass, since it usually only illegal to kill domestic animal on their domicile.22.214.171.124 00:29, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
- At least in my state (Utah) the law supports euthanasia of (non-human) animals so long as it is performed in a humane manner (which is a very different standard than applies to humans). Cruelty is punishable in the law, but one could make an argument that so long as the killing of the animal was done in a humane way, it may not be punishable by the cruelty statutes. The judgment of law enforcement officers, officers of a court with jurisdiction, juries, and perhaps the court of public opinion in some extra-legal context would all come into play if a question of whether euthanasia was cruel were to be raised. CasaDeRobison (talk) 14:17, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- I don't think you can euthanize someone else's animal though, unless the court has ordered it. I'm pretty sure you'd be guilty of theft & destruction of private property.
- Ya, killing and eating the dog would be a crime. You'd go to jail for theft (or something like unto it), have to pay to replace the dog and for killing him in the first place, and probably have to forfeit the game when you get arrested for disturbing the peace and using a weapon in the court. Never mind whatever harm you caused to the people trying to defend the dog. Of course, when you get out, if your muscles haven't atrophied and you aren't banned from the game, the enemy team will have lost their key player... 126.96.36.199 16:57, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
- Keep in mind the location of this comic isn't clear. In some countries, it is legal to kill and eat dogs. (Or at least, it isn't explicitly illegal.) KieferSkunk (talk) 21:02, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
On a mostly unrelated note: In at least one movie, the sports-playing dog has only three legs.
- "But, why is the dog missing a leg?" 'Well, a dog that good you don't eat all at once!' - old joke
188.8.131.52 22:12, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Amusingly, Air Bud is also wrong because the basketball rules say that a team consists of five men, and dogs are not men. --AndyZ
- That can be argued, if Air Bud is a male dog. Besides, "baseball is a game of two teams of 9 players each", but then they go and use the Designated Hitter. So Air Bud is just the Designated Dog. PsyMar (talk) 07:22, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Designated Hitler! --184.108.40.206 11:23, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm reminded of what Paul said to the Galatians: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law." Life is meant to be lived in this positive way, where the more of these "fruits" we express, the better we make the world. — tbc (talk) 12:48, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Here endeth the lesson. --Pudder (talk) 13:04, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I'm not convinced this is related to Pluto at all. In the Air Bud movie, the dog's jersey reads K on one side, and 9 on the other. I think the 9 is in reference to this, and not a veiled commentary on planet definitions. -- Strangequark (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
- I rewrote the Pluto section to incorporate this and to also note that this particular comic came out immediately after the New Horizons fly-by. Given Randall's penchant for this type of scientific reference, I'm more inclined to believe this is not a coincidence, but rather a subtle message that takes a couple of degrees of connection to form. He has been known to do that in the past. KieferSkunk (talk) 21:15, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Huh? Pluto?? Come on, let's remove that. I know some people are really traumatized about the whole Pluto thing, but there's no need to see ghosts everywhere... 220.127.116.11 15:05, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
The intentional foul is also referencing basketball when the losing team will intentionally foul the winning team late in the game so that the clock may stop. The winning team can only get 0,1, or 2 points from this then the losing team can try to quickly get 2 or 3 points making it "worth it" 18.104.22.168 15:09, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I am an Israeli and 1552 is about to be very very useful in describing the actions of my government. 22.214.171.124 19:41, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
I guess no one else watches BattleBots here.
A few weeks ago, in the second episode, the "Complete Control" team used a net against their opponent, citing the fact that the "no entanglement" rule which had previously existed had been removed from the rulebook. Randall states he watches the show in What-if #5, so I think it's likely that Randall watched this new episode, and that this comic at least partially references it, although I concede that it's odd that he waited several weeks before doing so.
Also, I think the connection between the 9 and Pluto is tenuous, but I concede that it's possible given the timing. -452 (talk) 15:10, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
- Battlebots might have served as an inspiration for the timing of this comic, but given that these kinds of loopholes are exploited in virtually everything, I doubt he was referring specifically to it. KieferSkunk (talk) 20:57, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
- Quite a few comics are inspired by, and refer to, recent events without actually mentioning the events, such as 1560: Bubblegum comic. "Roddy Pipers death" is to "1560: Bubblegum" as "the BattleBots net incident" is to "1552: Rulebook". Both comics stand on their own, but have a little extra if you know these recent events. Do you know of any other recent events that might be related to this? -452 (talk) 16:02, 6 August 2015 (UTC)
Many sports, especially youth sports, have rules specifying a player's minimum age. It's very likely that a dog could be excluded on those grounds. 126.96.36.199 16:15, 17 July 2015 (UTC)1
- Most league sports require the player to wear footwear meeting certain requirements as well. This would surely impede Buds dunkability. 188.8.131.52 23:12, 18 July 2015 (UTC)BLuDgeons
A dog is a "canine" which, depending on your dialect of English, can sound like "K 9".
WL15 (talk) 00:11, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
There is no reference to Babe in this comic. Reference means to write or speak about something/somebody, especially without giving much information. In this case zero information about Babe is given. Xhfz (talk) 20:41, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
- I actually agree with you here - in the first draft that I started revising, the writer had made specific mention of the "pathos" of Babe, but a more recent revision has pretty much removed that. The loophole in this case really has solely to do with Air Bud. I'll remove the Babe reference. KieferSkunk (talk) 20:57, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Are we really just going to let that whole section on Pluto stay there because the number 9 appeared in the comic? 184.108.40.206 18:48, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
- I totally agree - the Pluto part just completely ruins the explanation for me. Same goes for the weird and out of thin air reference to the dog name Pluto - seriously please remove these. 220.127.116.11 06:10, 22 July 2015 (UTC) WS
- I read through this again and outlined all of the links in this theory. While I still think it's possible that Randall was making a statement here, the one link that would clinch it was too tenuous: The dog's name in the film is "Buddy", and he is never called "Pluto" at any point. So there was no real basis to bring the name popularity into this, nor the connection to Disney's Pluto - the only link there was that a dog was involved, which isn't enough. I pulled that whole part of the explanation, at least until we have something more definite from Randall to set us straight. KieferSkunk (talk) 22:45, 24 July 2015 (UTC)
- I first came across this page after the whole "Pluto incident", which I only know about from the comments, and I'm glad it has been removed. I think I can help settle things if some people still think it should be mentioned: the comic references Air Bud, but the presence of a dog and a rulebook may not be enough to bring the movie to people's minds. Therefore, the "9" serves to identify the dog as the one from Air Bud. Also, always keep 915 in mind: the more I read this wiki, the more I see it's importance. GuiRitter (talk) 19:10, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I can't look at this comic and not immediately think of the history of American-Rules football, which circa 1900 was all about thinking about what wasn't in the rulebook, and using it to advantage. Radiolab did an entire episode about it, in particular the Carlisle Indians, an all-native-American-Indian team who, among other things, used special jerseys to hide the football so the opposing team wouldn't know where it was, and on another occasion, ran out of bounds, downfield, and then back in bounds to catch a pass. Basically, passing for a touchdown wasn't even a common thing until the Carlisle Indians did it. See http://www.radiolab.org/story/photos-carlisle-football/ for some great photos of the team that caused more rulebook changes than any other. 18.104.22.168 00:14, 19 August 2015 (UTC)