Friday, March 03, 2006

Gladwell and The Sports Guy...

Over the past couple of days over on ESPN.com's Page 2, they've posted an e-mail conversation between every-man sports journalist Bill "The Sports Guy" Simmons and Malcolm "Blink" Gladwell. If you haven't read this yet, click over to Part I and Part II and save it or print it out before the 2 week window expires and you have to be an "Insider" (inclusive word for subscriber) to see it.

Hundreds of hack columnists and TV analysts talk about sports as a microcosm of life, but rarely is it discussed in such a specific light and as humorously as between Simmons and Gladwell. Plus, it gives you permission to like high brow New Yorker Magazine pseudo-intellectual BS and sports.

For example:
  • Why do you think you can be a better NBA GM than Isiah Thomas despite the fact that you know that you know less about basketball than he does, and why are you probably right?
  • Can NBA GM's learn from the latest advances in child psychology?
  • Why don't people work hard when it's in their best interest to do so?
  • How important is effort compared to natural talent and coaching in the equation of reaching your full potential?
I'll leave with this Gladwell quote that really made me think:
"But one of the fascinating things about sports, it seems to me, is that when it comes the way we think about professional athletes, we're all liberals (without meaning to be, of course). We give people lots of chances. (Think Jeff George). We go to extraordinary lengths to help players reach their potential. We're forgiving of mistakes. When the big man needs help with his footwork, we ship him off to Pete Newell for the summer. We hold players accountable for their actions. But we also believe, as a matter of principle, that players need supportive environments in order to flourish. It would be nice if we were as generous and as patient with the rest of society's underachievers."
P.S. For Pittsburgh Steelers fans, The Ben Roethlisberger that is able to do this (It's Good To Be Big Ben) and still win a Super Bowl, Bill Cowher, and Hines Ward (who celebrates his 30th birthday today -- Happy Birthday Hines) all figure prominently in the discussion.

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