The camera swooped over the soccer field focusing in on the goal keeper as it hovered fifteen feet over the perfectly manicured grass moving in programmed harmony with the other cameras capturing every angle of the play as perfectly as the players on the field performed them.
Zack crossed the ball sideways to his teammate and slipped past the defender as it turned to follow the ball. His teammate could have shot and knew the odds were higher of scoring that way, but Zack had insisted the ball be returned if this situation occurred, and the ball was passed back as unerringly as Zack had expected at the exact height it had been in every practiced shot. Zack let his countless hours of practice take over and kicked the ball on the first bounce sliding across the ground as the ball hit the upper left corner of the net.
The crowd sat in silent shock as Zack jumped to his feet and began to bounce up and down in excitement, and as celebrated the slow realization of what they had just seen rippled through the crowd which was beginning to erupt in excitement everyone coming to their feet regardless of the team they followed. Zack had done the impossible.
As the crowds cheers grew to near deafening both teams returned silently and expressionlessly to their positions and the ball rose, hovered for a moment and then returned to the center of the field.
Zack fell behind his team as the exhaustion overwhelmed him. He had pushed himself to the limit, and he may have collapsed but for the warm hand of Paul that patted him on his back as he went by. Paul held the same position on the opposing team as Zack did, though he remained in the defensive position most humans played. At that simple gesture the crowd, which had began to quiet, erupted in cheers again.
The scoreboard didn’t change immediately. Zack understood. Hundreds of computers were now examining every camera angle of Zack’s attack looking for the rule he had broke to score. The computers didn't care. That was part of the problem. There was no more passion in the referees and judges than in the players. They only paused because what he had just done was impossible.
Play continued two full minutes before the point appeared on the scoreboard. Zack stopped in mid-play and pointed at the scoreboard. The game was meaningless. The changes over the last century had eliminated meaning until there was only one thing of importance left to do in this sport though no one even attempted it.
Zack had broken the unspoken rule. Humans weren't on the team to score goals and wern't supposed to try. Zack was the necessary weak link. Human error built into a perfect robot system because without that no robotic team was better than any other.
The remainder of the game was uneventfully and Zack’s team lost 2-1 leaving them in last place in the league. They had lost every game since he had become the team’s human. No one cared. He had beaten the machines. For one second he had been better than the computer’s team, and that brief moment changed everything.
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