Friday, March 19, 2010

SPORTS: The Best Since Not As Good

Just heard it again. A broadcaster on the tube said, "West Virginia's second seed is the school's best since it was a fifth seed in ..."

Drives me absolutely up the wall. Who CARES when West Virginia was a fifth seed? When was the last time the Mountaineers were a second seed? Or a first seed? Or is this the best ranking West Virginia's EVER had going into an NCAA tournament? I don't think so. WVU once had the wondrous Jerry West leading the charge and you have to think the selection committee was as impressed by him, as the Basketball Hall of Fame voters eventually were. But I digress.

First, statements like the one made by the announcer (who matters not), are true but are intellectually lazy. It's like the researcher said, "Well, I've looked far enough back. Time to call it a day (minute?) and just say it's the best since ..." Secondly, it's LESS impressive than it can be. If, for example, the last time West Virginia was second or better seeded was back in West's day, then it's been a HALF-CENTURY, or close to it, since people were this gaga about the Mountaineers. That's a heck of a lot more impressive than a fifth seed some (small) number of years ago.

Occasionally, these lazy historical comparatives are even bordering on the actual wrong side of accuracy. You've ALL heard announcers intone some current mark is the best since ... well the exact same mark. But sometimes those historical milestones occurred in less games or more games, less time or more time. And the same numbers don't reflect accurate relationships.

Me, when I hear the word 'since,' I want the number from the history to be better. Not the same. Not sort of the same, but better. Or worst (New Jersey Nets in the race with the sad sack Philadelphia Seventy-Sixers for the most futile NBA season of the modern era) That way I can evaluate the best/worst SINCE evaluation without wanting to reach through the TV screen and shake the announcer to the point he takes it out on the researcher.

The lazy researcher.

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