So the Super Bowl happened. To be honest…I did fall asleep in the chair i was sitting in for a while, but congrats NY Giants. However, I did catch the near-end of the game. The pressure was on, for both sides, and people in the room I was watching with were biting nails and beginning to breath heavily. But then….all of a sudden…those magical end-of-the-game-performance-stats flashed up on the screen. Comparing 4th quarter success and failures, conversions at 30, 20, 10, yards against team X, Y, Z, and also stats on how angry fans get when things go poorly…wait, that last one wasn’t really there, but it might of well been. When the announcers began riffling through these stats, the mood in the room became more tense, anxiety levels rose…chips began to be eaten faster. Through all this excitement, I did not honestly know what all the stats meant, but they sure made me nervous too, that all of a sudden something was going to go wrong in the game and the team I was rooting for would blow it.
Then it got me thinking. Televised sporting events LOVE to flash these “high pressure performance stats” almost every time there is a close game nearing the end of regulation. What purpose does this “last minute” assessment hold? Is is just a way to get the fans pulling out their hair? Is it to give the other team hope? I almost see it as a filler for an entertainment factor. Nearing the end…producer says “we got em’ now! Let’s make the audience more anxious, put up the statistics!” and we all begin to sweat a little more, high five at the potential of the other team/player failing…and then we wait for our self-fulfilling prophecy to undo.
I completely understand the system of statistics in sport. It can be largely beneficial, as we have seen in Major League Baseball first hand, and it has created an amazing industry of “Fantasy League” sports. It allows the mathematically minded to immerse themselves in mainstream sports and expanded the globalization of interest in sport performance. However, I believe we lose sight of and overuse these assessments of athletes and it has become more of an entertainment tool as opposed to a performance enhancement tool.
So I leave you with a few tips for the near-end-of-the-game-stats:
2) Don’t snack out of nervousness
3) They are only numbers…when have you ever seen a number 100% determine a physical skill….
4) Don’t turn off the TV…you’re going to miss the excitement.