Facilitated by the ethereal nature of hysteria embarking on a fad, math and statistics are suddenly horrendously popular within a culture which embraces the visceral over strength, speed science, and endorses data when it supports a narrow and specific narrative. Withstanding Hollywood’s egregiously sanguine portrayal of Oakland Athletic GM Billy Beane in “Moneyball”, big data has infiltrated the ecosystem of college and professional sports and indirectly attempts to circumvent situational awareness, as calculations now supersede observations pertaining to game time decisions and judgements. This unsettling phenomenon is threatening to eliminate the essence of organic competition, and the manner in which wins and losses are determined, as evaluation within real time has devolved into an endangered species.
Within the participation trophy culture of the current embracement of competitive balance, the poignancy of winning and losing is being diluted by politics and economics, with the current financial model of a system calibrated to even out the playing field an epic failure. Add to the noxious recipe, a gravitation to a trending blind faith in statistics rather than banishing the traditional eye test to a savage penal colony in Azerbaijan representing just two colors, gray and red, and striving for championships is now sacrilege behind the foreboding walls of college campuses.
Recently, an incident on the NCAA football gridiron epitomizes the current downfall and expunging of excellent from the competitive vernacular. Facing the monumental task of simply taking a knee to win a game, the University of Miami Hurricanes more than squandered an slam dunk opportunity for victory in earning their own definition in print and online dictionaries of categorical “choking” and the subsequent PC nuances of forces outside of athletics dictating outcomes that should be flooded by the inevitable.
With :33 seconds left in the 4th quarter and in possession of the ball and leading their opponents out of timeouts on the scoreboard , Miami Head Coach Mario Cristobal opted to do the unthinkable in actually running a play, instead of simply taking a knee. The fabricated arrogance, or simply complete indifference to the situation, resulted in a lost fumble and Georgia Tech pounced on the anomaly to score the winning touchdown four plays later in being gifted an improbable victory.
Common sense calculates that simply snapping the ball and having the quarterback go down would have resulted in a 100% scenario for victory, yet multiple coaching staff members, consultants, and players somehow managed to complicate matters which resulted in the stunning loss. Quite possibly, the decision makers were confused by the wealth of borderline linear information available, and simply made a vital mistake, as each and every scenario on the field is evaluated from a probability standpoint. While this possible reality is disturbing, it is also evidence that overengineering is a consequence of the Information Age, and outside the confines of sports has led to actual fatalities, in tracing a trajectory that society is currently incapable of coping with in terms of damage control, or technology that has not been properly tried and tested before being unleased.
With the goal to normalize human behavior outliers, the advancement in understanding statistics defining athletics has been most heavily applied to Major League Baseball, as next generation methodologies of evaluating performance has become a billion dollar practice in franchises applying numbers to marginalizing profit. As Beane and A’s are the paramount example of formulating a legend calculated from raw figures and not live observations, the team has earned multiple postseason appearances over the last two decades, but has never flirted with touching greatness in advancing to the World Series, and this is where the grey and red butcher of a prison stain metaphor is readily apparent. Recently, Seattle Mariner President Jerry Dipoto, a proponent of Sabermetrics, analytics, and a Beane disciple reprehensibly ranted that fans of the franchise in the Pacific Northwest should embrace mediocrity and hold a victory parade for the team merely qualifying for the postseason, as the context of champions has been lost with the dumbing down of society.
While a percentage of those inventing algorithms to dissect and emulate gametime performance never engaged in competition that was not conjured from a video game, the physical disconnect with situations, scenarios and instinct is only forwarding the inability to properly facilitate effective tactical methodologies in achieving excellence. In the perfect storm of cultural biases colliding like a self-driving vehicle explosion of toxic dystopian battery matter with the inherent pampering afflicting the contemporary realm of athletics, winning at all costs takes a very confining back seat to simply existing. As winning, at least on a professional level is now measured by financial fortunes, the classic optics of wins and losses have ceased to be defined by valuation, as long as the complex algorithms are satisfied.
Competition is gradually becoming an endangered species, and the blind worship of numbers coupled with the enablement of humans defining their own genders and identities is the precursor to a forever war. “Losing is not an excuse”, has been hijacked by “just show up and whatever happens, be prideful of participating, and make sure to grab an obligatory ice cream sundae.”