Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cold weather blues

Sports have been a major part of most cultures for centuries. Ancient hieroglyphs show stick figures arguing over a penalty call with a ref. There has even been teeth of prehistoric hockey players found in glaciers off the coast of Greenland. Over the past few decades, science and mathematical minded people have begun to come up with better ways to evaluate the athletes that play these sports. In baseball, for example, the term "sabermetrics" refers to the analysis of baseball through objective, observable evidence, including those which take into account park (stadium), teammate, and historical factors. In the 1980s, that was seen as a fringe area. Today, even the most basic of news sites and analysts uses such terms as "On Base + Slugging" percentage, unheard of in the 1990s.

That is why it is humorous when observing the sports journalist. This is a person that takes his (or sometimes her) job with the seriousness of an embedded Middle East reporter, but with the writing skills of an elementary school student and the logic to match. Peyton Manning, one of the top Quarterbacks in the National Football League (both active and all time) was released from the Indianapolis Colts. Understandably, most teams were inquiring about his interest in playing with them. The experts in newspaper, television and radio began weighing in. They cried that Peyton Manning does not want to play in cold weather, having previously spent his time playing in a dome arena. They said that he would not want to play in the AFC East, where he would have to face fellow elite Quarterback Tom Brady twice per year.

As I commented on March 16th, "One of best QBs ever is afraid of adversity? Bullshit!" As it turns out, Manning agreed, and signed with the Denver Broncos. Denver is, of course, one mile above sea level and has average temperatures that would freeze snot. Furthermore, the idea that Manning could not handle cold temperatures or play as well outdoors is absurd, and easily disproved by a cursory glance at simple statistics.

It makes me wonder what these sports commentators are paid to do. It can't be accurate analysis.

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