Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Can't Measure A-Hole

An important article for sports fans over at Grantland today. Jonah Lehrer explains why, although sabermetrics can be great in a sport like baseball, in most other sports the fact that teammates actually play together makes things far more complex. He sums up his point pretty nicely in this passage:

But sabermetrics comes with an important drawback. Because it translates sports into a list of statistics, the tool can also lead coaches and executives to neglect those variables that can't be quantified. They become so obsessed with the power of base runs that they undervalue the importance of not being an asshole, or having playoff experience, or listening to the coach. Such variables are the sporting equivalent of a nice dashboard. They can't be quantified, but they still count.
Thus a Dallas Mavericks team who was woefully undermatched on paper knocks of at least 3 teams with an obvious talent advantage. It is why sports are great.

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