Friday, February 17, 2012


If, as many note, art/entertainment are America’s greatest (and most profitable) export, and no doubt, America leads the world in producing such, from the most low-brow of entertainments (pornography) to the most high-brow of pursuits sports, then American sports (art) entertainment has “taken it to another level” this year!

On the heels of Tebow-mania comes its basketball equivalent, LINSANITY!

A 23 y/o undrafted point guard out of Harvard has set the NBA and the entire sports world on fire, leading a Knicks, a team that had dropped 9 straight games, one more than its season victory total to that time (8-15), on a 7 game winning streak and counting (now 15-15).

More than that, once again the sports/arts world (which earlier served to render the Bernie Madoff scandal easily understandable through the travails of the NY Mets and the current economic contraction process via the NFL & NBA lockouts much clearer) is illustrating yet another real-life reality, as only it can.

I’ve spent years explaining the concept of “Expanding Variability” as a reason why the “experts” political, economic, etc., are more often wrong than they are right.

Here, the unlikely rise of a 23 y/o undrafted (sports) artist out of Harvard (hardly a sports/arts powerhouse) has proven the experts wrong (as usual) and Expanding Variability correct. Just how rare Harvard grads in the NBA are, it’s been reported that just 4 Harvard grads have played in the NBA, while 8 have served as President of the United States!

A dozen teams had passed on Jeremy Lin, two others had cut him outright and the NY Knicks were days away from waiving him, when they pressed him into action on February 4th!

Since that time the Knicks have been transformed from a sad-sack team barely winning a third of their games and on an interminable 9-game losing tear to one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the last 10 days.

Far more important than “Will it last,” which can rightfully be asked in either case, is “How can these so-called “experts” be so reliably wrong?”

23 year-olds out of Harvard and weeks out of languishing in the NBA’s “D-League” (Developmental league) rarely set the league on fire, but that’s exactly what Jeremy Lin has done. Lin’s jersey is now the leading seller among NBA jerseys. Masks have been made of his face and taken to games. China has reset their TV scheduling to be able to broadcast Knick games. Toronto, with its 12% Asian population went wild when the Knicks visited a few days ago, turning an away game to a veritable “home game” for the NY Knicks.

Should the “experts” being proven wrong (AGAIN) be any surprise to astute people (those paying any attention) everywhere?


Of ESPN’s 12 football “experts” (and all of them had weighty credentials) ONLY one picked the NY Giants to even make the playoffs. . .NONE picked them to be IN, let alone win the Super Bowl!

Of course, the “experts” being proven wrong and more-wrong, happens across every field, virtually EVERY day! Mark Zandi (often described as President Obama’s favorite economist) of Moody’s Analytics’ recently noted, “The January employment report will be on the soft side. I expect payroll employment to increase by just over 100k and private sector employment to increase by 125k. Unemployment will edge higher to 8.6 percent.” That prediction for the January employment number was every bit as wrong as the ESPN preseason NFL picks were.

When the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers came out Friday, they showed that rather than edging higher, to 8.6 percent, as Zandi had predicted, the unemployment rate had dropped, to 8.3 percent. And the nonfarm-payroll number grew 243,000, more than double what he’d predicted.

In August of 2011 David Leonhardt, a 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner for what the Pulitzer Board for economic reporting (the Pulitzer Committee heralded “his graceful penetration of America’s complicated economic questions) wrote an article titled, “Stocks Are Still Expensive. In it he claimed that U.S. “stocks are under pressure because they are fairly expensive right now relative to earnings,asserting that, “Stocks would have to fall another 6 percent from their current level to return to the 50-year average.”

Since that article was printed U.S. stocks, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, rose by a whopping 12%. . .and 18-pecentage point swing FROM Leonhardt’s predicted 6% decline.

Expanding Variability rules the day once again!

Beyond all that, Lin’s sudden rise has also brought in the inevitable issue of race. Are many non-black athletes discounted and unheralded due to preconceptions (bias)?

That charge has been aro0und for decades. Paul Warfield a standout NFL receiver, who happened to be black, noted way back in the 1970s that there were many white receivers that didn’t get the chance a white teammate of Warfield’s (Chris Collingsworth) got “because they were white and a lot of coaches just didn’t want to take a chance on them”).

ALL of that controversy could easily be overcome IF we’d just go by the numbers using standardized modalities of measurements. The NFL has it “Combines” where prospects are scrutinized purely on the numbers (how fast, how high, etc.), if those measurements were used and the subjective input from coaches and other “experts” were ignored, at least there’d be hint of bias.

Standardized modalities are NEVER biased.

Certainly it would’ve resulted in LESS shock over Jeremy Lin’s success had the “experts” simply gone with the numbers rather than allow their doubts over his pedigree and background take precedence.

1 comment:

pela68 said...

Looks like NYC has the upper hand considering sports lately.
How about the Rangers? (With Lundqvist)...
It´s only baseball left. Which I´m shure an north american team will slam- bang the "world series"- again!
Well, we here in the old world still consider unimportant sports as soccer and (for some reason) cross- country skiing being the s*it.
Having a serious influenza- feel dizzy.
Must... Stop... Writing ;-)

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