From Ronaldinho to Mahomes – The no-look pass is the ultimate form of showboating

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Sport is all about winning, certainly at the very highest level. While there are plenty of benefits to be found in taking part, ultimately history will only remember those that emerged victorious. Elite competition is, however, also an entertainment business.

Points and prizes are the ultimate end goal, but billions around the world tune in to events unfolding on pitches, courts, rinks and tables expecting to get value for whatever their outlay may have been – be that a ticket price, travel costs, subscription fee or something else.

Entertainers

Fortunately, there are plenty of entertainers to be found across a wide range of activities. The Premier League and Champions League is full of creative playmakers, cricket has its big-hitting batsmen, tennis embraces the flamboyance of Nick Kyrgios, slam dunks get basketball crowds going and the NFL boasts showmen with a ball in hand.

The greatest show in American football is upon us once more, with Super Bowl odds favouring the 9/4 Philadelphia Eagles just ahead of the 5/2 shot Cincinnati Bengals. The Kansas City Chiefs are also priced at 5/2, and it is they who boast arguably the biggest audience attraction within their ranks.

Patrick Mahomes is a bona fide superstar, a man with a Super Bowl ring and MVP award already tucked safely under his belt, with the promise of even more to come as he takes the art of playing quarterback to whole new heights.

The Chiefs’ on-field leader has redefined what it means to play under centre in the NFL, with there more strings in his bow than there are in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Mahomes wants to win, but he wants to do so in style.

He has left viewers dumbstruck with his remarkable exploits on the field, with there being one particular trick up his sleeve that is guaranteed to get spectators on their feet. We are talking, of course, about the no-look pass.

Mahomes has mastered said art, with one particular example of that against the Denver Broncos from December 2022 seeing him defy all logic by scrambling out of the pocket, strong-arming an attempted tackle and flicking a pass over the head of a defender without even casting an eye in the direction of his intended target.

He is by no means the first to pull off such a stunt, with no-look passes and finishes to be found across the sporting spectrum. Barcelona and Brazil icon Ronaldinho loved nothing more than making rivals look foolish with his footballing wizardry, while Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino is renowned for turning away when presented with an open net. He has said of adopting that trait: “It came from nowhere; the idea just came to me. It’s dangerous, isn’t it? You can miss out on a goal. But whenever the chance comes, I do it.”

Ultimate

No-look passes are also commonplace in the NBA, while Adrian Lewis once famously completed a score of 180 at the World Darts Championship without watching his final fling of tungsten hit the board.

In many ways, completing a sporting action while seemingly blind to it could be considered the ultimate form of showboating. It does, after all, tick the right boxes when it comes to end result and entertainment factor. There will undoubtedly be many more instances of such plays being adopted, with it possible that Mahomes could break one out on Super Bowl Sunday if he can guide the Chiefs to State Farm in Arizona on February 12.