I've always been a fan of ideas that are contrary to popular belief. There are so many things that we assume are true and the way we perceive things are not necessarily how they actually are. Accumulating data is what helps us understand these things and the authors did an outstanding job of doing this.
The reader will continue to wonder how the data will connect with the assertion made by the authors but in the proceeding pages, things are explained masterfully through analogies, case studies and other data.
At times the reader will be completely blown away by the findings. For example, in football, a team that's on 4th down and 10 and is well out of reach of a field goal will undoubtedly punt, however, statistics showed that as long as a team is at least closer than 11 yards on the 4th down, they should go for it.
Another shocking assertion is that the 'hot hand' actually does not exist. It's been a topic that's been brought up a number of times and players and coaches believe it to be true but there is no evidence proving that it actually exists. The authors explained that players who believe they have the hot hand, will continue to shoot, players will pass them the ball because they are taught to 'feed the hot hand' and in most cases, the player will end up taking more difficult shots due to the belief that they have a 'hot hand'.
The authors also go on to explain that players who do go on stretches where they hit a number of consecutive shots in a row will end up missing consecutive shots or going on a stretch where they struggle. A prime example was in the 2010 NBA Finals where Ray Allen was 'on fire' in game 2 but cooled off in game 3. The momentum simply did not carry over.
I've always believed in the 'hot hand'. For example, in a gym with no defenders and all the time in the world, I made 31 3-pointers. I felt like I couldn't miss. However after making the 31, I continued shooting and started missing left and right. In the end, I probably shot no better percentage wise than I do on any other day.
The way that the authors explained this phenomenon was with a coin toss. The odds of getting heads or tails is exactly 50%, meaning that just because there have been 2 or 3 heads in a row doesn't necessarily mean that it's due for a tails and that 5 straight makes doesn't necessarily mean a 6th or a miss is on its way. Of course there are more factors involved when it comes to sports but the idea is the same. Things will usually average out.
There are a number of other topics covered in the book but I recommend this book to every sports fan. It definitely makes one see sports in a different light and rethink strategies employed by players, coaches and teams.
All of the major professional sports have been played for well over a century. This has led to a long and hallowed tradition of how things are done. Unfortunately, in many cases the traditional way of doing things is not the statistically most effective. The primary topic is an analysis of how the home field advantage is acquired. Contrary to popular belief, crowd noise does not rattle a player shooting a foul shot as the players are generally so focused that the background noise is unheard. As … more
I love basketball, exercise, reading, business, movies and occasionally some brainless reality TV shows =P I am more than happy to help anyone out with anything here on Lunch and definitely looking forward … more
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“Defense wins championships!” So declared a triumphant Michael Jordan in 1991, invoking a hallowed sports mantra. But Jordan’s assertion melts into cliché when Moskowitz and Wertheim expose it to statistical calculations revealing that, regardless of the sport, offense proves just as decisive as defense. Indeed, in their wide-ranging iconoclasm, the authors repeatedly poke arithmetic holes in what everyone in sports supposedly knows. Typical is their number-crunching assault on the popular explanation of home-field advantage as a consequence of visiting teams’ road fatigue. Home teams win, the authors demonstrate, chiefly because referees tend to see plays their way—especially when the crowd of spectators grows large. Parsing of data illuminates off-field behavior, too, explaining which athletes use steroids and which ones use marijuana. Even the curse hanging over the Chicago Cubs comes into focus then the analysts ignore the billy-goat myth and statistically assess a management style fostered by fans perversely loyal to “lovable losers”! Sports buffs eager to win their next barroom argument will be lining up for this book. --Bryce Christensen