The Sports-Observer’s Paradox

Written by :
Published on : February 6, 2016

 

 

 

According to noted scholar Erwin Tillinghast’s Wikipedia page, the Observer’s Paradox is described thusly:

 

In the social sciences, (and physics and experimental physics,) the observer’s paradox refers to a situation in which the phenomenon being observed is unwittingly influenced by the presence of the observer/investigator

 

The implication, then, is that the mere act of observation itself has the power to affect that which is being observed, including its outcome.  So it’s not unreasonable for me to assume that when I watch a game, I have a certain and unique influence on the score.  As a fan, knowing this inarguable fact is validating and, perhaps, delusional.  Surely, ritualistically kissing my Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnastakanov “Believe” patch, yet to be sewn onto my Darren McCarty Jersey, had a singular sway on the ’98 Detroit Red Wings-Washington Capitals Stanley Cup Final!

 

But taken to its logical extreme, this reality can also have terrible consequences.  For instance: that yellowish (not maize) Block-M shirt I wear? A definite bad luck charm for the University of Michigan Football team, but good for the Men’s Basketball team.  Skip watching a Wings home game? Whoops, turns out Larkin scored four hat-tricks.  Watch the next game, and it’s another third period meltdown.  What happens when the Sports-Observer’s Paradox goes wrong?

 

This Sports-Observer’s Paradox covers the unfortunate experience of your viewership befouling the entire existence of a high-level athlete.  Every time you watch this supposed all-star, it’s anything but an all-star experience.  They can’t hit a shot! You also know the feeling too well, when your friends are talking about Athlete X and glowing about that one goal or that clutch shot; you’re confused, because you know that this player is hyped and popular, but you thought at least your buds would get it.  Each time you watch Athlete X, they’re stumbling over themselves, dribbling in circles, or shooting the puck / ball / whatever out of bounds to the benefit of nobody.  Are you somehow ruining these fools?

 

Hockey: Rick Nash

(stats courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com)

The story to tell here is not so complicated.  Every time I watch this guy, he becomes a sluggy vortex of avarice, happier to shoot the puck in the general direction of the goal than to pass it to a teammate.  I guess it’s okay to be a big goal-scorer if you’re a prolific beast who hits and pelters the goal with a hailstorm of galvanized fury; Rick Nash is a marshmallow.  He’s a gummy, semi-hardened marshmallow that’s been through the ringer, but still a marshmallow.  He’s a goal scorer that doesn’t score enough to be such a terrible creator and provider.  He needs to give up the rock.  Shit or get off the pot, as they say.

 

Rick Nash Regular Season Stats

 

Nash is likely to plop a goal in when I’m not watching, but since he joined New York, he’s played dozens of nationally televised games.  Many of these came during the last two years, during which time Nash’s Rangers played 44 playoff games.  That’s two deep Stanley Cup runs, which can be a drain both physically and mentally when a player is locked in.  But when a player is Rick Nash, they only score EIGHT TIMES IN FORTY-FOUR GAMES.    That’s $8 Million a year well-spent!  Gotta love an all-star that excels when it doesn’t matter, and makes no one around him better.  Rick Nash: deadly once every six games.

 

To be fair, many, many other people have also seen this version of Rick Nash.

 

Rick Nash Playoff Stats

 

 

Soccer: Arjen Robben

It’s not even a secret, but rather a defining trait: Arjen Robben has a signature move.  He cuts left.  He has a very, very deadly left foot.  He loves his left foot.

 

 

He loves it for a reason. One would think that this predictability would be a tremendous Achilles’ heel, and every time I watch him, that looks to be true.  He’s maddeningly predictable, but not just in that move; his featherlight, dainty paws are vulnerable to tackles, grass, wind, and strong emotions.  If an opponent feels a powerful sense of ennuí, Robben is likely to fall over and draw an unwarranted card.  Yet…

 

Robben Fall

 

…It works! But still, fuck this guy, right?  What a flamboyantly aggressive display of spinelessness.  I actually saw this moment, which was technically a very positive outcome for the Dutch national team.  But what’s good for the Oranje is not always good for the sport. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the unbecoming flair of this floppery is directly caused by the incompetence of all soccer refereeing, but still — it’s not a good look.  Whenever I watch Robben, this is the best he can do.  I always miss the incredible moments that are apparently happening.

 

You look at that, and it’s easy to say that these lousy Barcelona defenders are fools to have put themselves in such a vulnerable position only to fall prey to a guy who can’t even use his right foot!  He ALWAYS CUTS LEFT.

 

Robben cuts right

 

HE GOES… to his right foot

…Except when he doesn’t.  But of course,  I’m always at work at that time, and I never see those moments, or any of the other brilliant, shameless antics.  So he remains a craven chump to me.

 

The examples go on and on, such as the excellent quarterback mirage of Carson Palmer 2014-15; Kyrie Irving, the best player on the planet that I’ve never seen do anything on the court when there are any sort of stakes; ditto for NHL goalkeeper Roberto Luongo.  Is this the result of some faulty alignment of all the parallel universes in existence? A tear in the space-time continuum? String theory?

 

The ScoreBoredSports Science Division is currently hard at work researching this phenomenon in our secret hydroponic laboratory.  While we wait for the answers, you, the reader, can help by asking yourselves: which athlete is your paradox?

 

 


The 2016 NHL All-Star Game Was One For The Books

Written by :
Published on : February 3, 2016

 

 

This past Sunday, the 2016 NHL All-Star game was played in Nashville, TN and it might have been the most memorable NHL All-Star game in recent history. This was made possible by one man, John Scott.

 

For those of you that have been living under a rock the past month or so, John Scott, the 6′ 8″ 260lbs enforcer with only 5 career goals, was voted into the All-Star Game via fan vote. This was thanks to an online campaign with the aim of exploiting the voting system. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know who John Scott was before this whole thing started. I barely knew that he briefly played for the Rangers. When it was announced that Scott would captain the Pacific Division team, it was received with mixed opinions. Personally, I was genuinely happy for the guy. I thought it would add an interesting dynamic to the usually dismal All-Star Game.

 

NHL all star 2

 

Then the reports came out that Scott had been traded to the Montreal Canadiens and subsequently sent down to their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps in a multi-player deal that seemed to be orchestrated by the league themselves. This was all supposedly in an attempt to keep Scott out of the All-Star Game after he refused to bow out on his own.

 

 

Well after this, I was 100% for John Scott and his participation in the All-Star Game…and so was the rest of twitter. Within a few hours #FreeJohnScott was trending and people were demanding he be allowed to play.

 

Eventually, the NHL was tired of being the bad guy and did the right thing. They announced on January 19th, that John Scott would captain the Pacific Division team in the ASG, citing “a determination to maintain the status quo for the All-Star weekend in order to preserve all parties’ pre-existing expectations, including Scott’s desire to participate.”

 

NHL Allstar3

 

Then the news broke that Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews both pulled out of the All-Star Game just days before puck drop because of previous injuries.

 

Fast forward to the skills competition…

 

The night started off with Dylan Larkin, the 19 year-old Detroit rookie, breaking the fastest lap record in 13.172 seconds.

 

 

Then came the breakaway challenge, which P.K. Subban won for this Jaromir Jagr impersonation.

 

 

And who can forget Brent Burn’s Chewbacca impersonation.

 

 

The Eastern Conference team ending up dominating the Skills Competition and won 29-12.

 

The All-Star Game opened up with Atlantic vs. Metropolitan in the new 3v3 format. The Atlantic pulled away with a 4-3 win over the Metropolitan. Dylan Larkin notched a team-leading three points, and was the only multi-point player for his team.

 

Next up was Central vs. Pacific. James Neal opened up the scoring for the Central. Then the unthinkable happened…JOHN SCOTT SCORED A GOAL.

 

 

His celly might have been the highlight of my night (and everyone else’s). Then in the second half, John Freaking Scott decides he wants to score AGAIN on a breakaway.

 

 

The Pacific went on to defeat the Central on a score of 9-6.

 

The final matchup of this new tournament-style All-Star Game pitted Pacific against Atlantic for all the marbles. No scoring in the first half courtesy of some excellent goaltending by Jonathan Quick and Roberto Luongo. Scoring opened up in the second with a goal by Corey Perry, which proved to be the game winner. Pacific Division wins it 1-0.

 

 

And that’s not even the best part…

 

Thanks to yet another online campaign that was supported by multiple official NHL team twitter accounts, John Scott was voted MVP of the All-Star Game.

 

 

I mean how can you not be happy for this guy? He was really the highlight of the entire event. His All-Star Jersey sold out in 30 minutes. The St. Johns Ice Caps even changed their twitter name to “St. JohnScott Ice Caps.” His All-Star helmet is currently being displayed at the Hockey HOF. It’s just an incredible story.

 

Scott has, more than anything, proven to be someone the NHL should be proud of having in its family. The way he carried himself throughout the weekend was truly amazing. And seeing how everyone enjoyed it, from the fans, to his family, to the fellow players, makes it almost unthinkable that the NHL initially considered his presence a bad idea.

 

NHL all star 4

 

This has always been a chance for the league to show a little more life and personality, and that’s exactly what Scott brought to the table. We may never have an All-Star Game exactly like this again, even if 3-on-3 is here to stay (I hate to admit it but it was pretty awesome even though it wasn’t a gongshow like I expected), but man, this was special.

 

P.S. Read this article Scott wrote for The Player’s Tribune.

 

 

 


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