February 25, 2012

Not not from The Onion

From The Onion:
"Great Team Chemistry No Match For Great Team Biology"
Despite college basketball analysts' frequent remarks that the team exhibits "great chemistry," the Texas A&M Aggies were edged out Wednesday night 66-58 by the No. 4-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who apparently have great team biology.

Sports differ markedly in how easy it is to predict professional success, with basketball being the easiest, probably because height is so important and obvious. The NBA used to conduct a seven round draft, but bored teams would purposely fritter away later-round choices on random tall people, celebrities, and women. So, the NBA switched to only two rounds. Even so, the number of undrafted players to achieve stardom is low. The best undrafted player ever is probably defensive specialist Ben Wallace, followed by Brad Miller and John Starks and a surprisingly short list of other star players.

When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue.

Have any new team sports been invented in the last generation? We've got a bunch of new individual sports, most of them X Games stuff, like snowboard cross, that are pretty cool, but are any new team sports emerging? 

In contrast, baseball's draft goes on forever. Mike Piazza was picked in the 62nd round. 

In the NFL, famous undrafted players include Kurt Warner, Wes Welker, Warren Moon, and Jeff Garcia. 

In golf, the creation of the Senior Tour for 50+ players led to a small number of senior stars emerging who had never had any success on the regular Tour. One had lived in his car for years, working on his swing. 

89 comments:

theo the kraut said...

OT, @Steve, not from The Onion:

glpiggy.net/2012/02/24/zombie-muslim-judges

Pennsylvania District Judge Mark Martin, former GI, Iraq vet, Muslim convert, mangles constitutional right of victim based on the Quran, preaches Islam in court in most bizarre manner. Attorney of Muslim defendant (who gets acquitted) finds preaching great. Will be judge, too, soon. No pun, no tongue-in-anywhere, just-like-that. Hell just froze over, Obama administration involved (cf Jonathan Turley below). St. Steve, do help. Make Demons Die.

links:

http://www.abc27.com/story/16986440/midstate-judge-rules-against-attack-on-atheist-in-costume

http://www.freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/655-pennsylvania-judge-imposes-islamic-law-on-assaulted-parade-goer.html

Extensive quotes by the judge:
http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/crime/muslim-admits-attacking-atheist-muslim-judge-dismisses-case

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor:
http://jonathanturley.org/2012/02/24/pennsylvania-judge-throws-out-charge-for-harassing-atheist-while-calling-the-victim-a-doofus/

Anonymous said...

"When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue."

Not really. Many great ballplayers have been relatively small, like Isiah Thomas. Speed and agility can often beat height. After all, many tall people didn't do well. Manute Bol wasn't much of a player.

And how is football more intelligent? It's about size and power. In basketball, even big guys cannot rely purely on brute strength but must move around and handle the ball. Most football players just go ARRGH and crash into one another. The bigger stronger guy has the advantage. Only the quarterback, running back, and receiver need special skills, but even runner needs lots of power and receiver lots of speed.
And is weightlifting smart? It's about size and strength.

And I'll bet an average basketball player will make a better baseball player than vice versa.

Anonymous said...


When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue.


Isn't that a kind of stupid statement?

All successful people are successful because of some random (set of) genetic attribute(s) they have that others do not have.

And again, there is strong heritability of traits (like height and IQ), so they are not that random after all.

bgc said...

T20 cricket was invented 9 years ago is already a major international success among some big nations - notably India.

Jim O said...

And Piazza was drafted as a favor to his father, a friend of Tommy Lasorda.

Anonymous said...

Not sure it's just height. Most D1 college teams have players about as tall for their position as NBA averages. So there's still a lot of differentiation necessary.

Anonymous said...

"At one grimly hilarious moment last Friday, these worthy sermons were buttressed by a message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaida, therefore presumably the No. 1 target on President Obama's hit list, similarly praising the 'Lions of Syria' for rising up against the Assad regime. Al-Qaida and the White House are in sync!"

Anonymous said...

"In the NFL, famous undrafted players include Kurt Warner, Wes Welker, Warren Moon, and Jeff Garcia."

So three QBs.

QB is not a position where you can just take some athletic guy, because, hey, he's in good shape. Other positions, why not?

Shouting Thomas said...

Yeah, you can't coach height.

But, there are plenty of tall guys, and then there are NBA players. You ever actually stood next to one of those guys?

I used to play corporate league ball in NYC in a facility where a few Knicks did individual workouts during the off-season. I got to stand next to a couple of these guys, and watch them work out.

Most astounding physical specimens I've ever seen. Guys 6 foot 6 and taller built like weight lifters, and still capable of sprinting, jumping and moving like Olympic level acrobats. Their ball handling and shooting skills were off the charts.

It's not just height.

Anonymous said...

Do you want that paragraph about "invented team sports" right there in the last third? It seems out of place, particularly with "in contrast" coming with baseball right afterwards. You're contrasting baseball to basketball, not invented team sports.

But in answer to the question, I think we've got some online video games that are team games, don't we?

Mitch said...

That last comment on the team sport placement was mine--forgot to click an option.

Anonymous said...

"When you think about it, basketball is kind of a stupid sport..."

FINALLY!

Finally, finally, finally!

I _knew_ you could get there, Steve. I guess you just had to put in your 10,000 hours first, eh?

Glaivester said...

The problem with games like basketball on the one hand and hockey and soccer on the other is that they are too much a series of disconnected plays rather than tactical actions which build on each other.

In basketball, you essentially have a play every 20-30 seconds where one team tries to get the ball in the basket and either fails or succeeds. Immediately afterward the cycle starts over, with no real connection to the previous cycle.

In hockey or soccer things are much the same, except that attempts to score fail much more frequently than they succeed. Essentially, the ball can go from one end of the court to another fairly rapidly, and the question becomes, will it actually go in this time?

In contrast, baseball and football are such that you can have varying degrees of success without actually scoring, and that these successes can eventually lead up to a score. In baseball, you try to get as many players as far along in the bases as possible, and in football, you try to gain yards. In addition, the defense can accumulate "points" towards getting the ball (strikes and then outs in baseball, downs in football).

I think both games are in some sense more tactical, which is the reason for their great popularity.

Anonymous said...

Rugby is getting more and more popular among college educated white men.

Anonymous said...

Steve, OT...

Wouldn't you love to have the putting stroke of Dave Stockton? Look at what he did on the Senior Tour. His lack of length hurt him on the regular tour, but what a putter. Best I've seen.

Anonymous said...

OT:

A big article in the NYT about Stuyvesant High School, the most prestigious public high school in NYC. It's mostly about the fact that blacks now make up 1.2% of the student body, down from 12% in 1975. Hispanics are 2.4%, Asians are up from 6% in 1970 to 72.5% now. Whites are down from 79% in 1970 to 24% now. Unlike the decline in the number of blacks, the decline in the number of whites goes unlamented in the NYC piece. The racial bias in the piece is gratuitous, but the info is interesting. Admissions to Stuyvesant are purely meritocratic. Who would have thought?

They profiled one black student. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows New York that she turns out to be Jamaican. I would bet real money that most of the 40 black students in the school are West Indian. I work with an East Indian man whose daughter goes to Stuyvesant. It's a major point of pride for him. It says in the article that three quarters of the student body are immigrants.

By the way, Stuyvesant is located quite close to the new Goldman Sachs building.

Aaron B. said...

Maybe they should raise the rims to about 13 feet, to make them proportionally as high for the pros as 10-foot rims are for normal people. But haven't people tried creating under-6-foot leagues, that haven't gone anywhere? And then of course there's women's basketball, where they have excellent fundamentals.

Anonymous said...

When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue.

"Man grows 6 inches after surgery"

http://www.wtop.com/?nid=267&sid=2761406

Both of Lin's parents are around 5'6" or something while he's 6'2". Do you think this sort of thing might have been involved with Lin?

Anonymous said...

Fukiyaki speakuzu.

Anonymous said...

Here is where Fukiyaki wrong. He say China create first 'modern state' because it come up with 'impersonal government' of promotion by meritocracy and rule of law. But ideal not same as reality. China say one thing but do another cuz real power concentrated in a few. So, they say blah blah but really do bleah bleah.
What Chinese not understand was for there to be real rule of law, there need balance of power. No balance of power, there no rule of law, even if ideal is rule of law. Take Red China under Mao. Officially, it rule of law but in reality, Mao was emperor and do like he please.

True modern state arise not with ideal of rule of law and meritocracy but with balance of powers where no single power have so much power. So, there is king power, noble power, bourgeois power, church power, and etc and that lead to society where various powers are forced to come to terms and respect each other's power. That make for real beginning of modern state.

not a hacker said...

it gives such an advantage to height

On the Berkeley campus there's a regular "community" b-ball game with lots of really good 6-foot types, some of whom played JC ball. One day in '98, some 6'3" swimmers and water polo players showed up. They won easily, walked off, and never appeared again.

Sword said...

New team sport:

In the 80ies, floorball really took off in Sweden, and the international federation now has national federations in 40-50 countries. (There is one in USA, but USA is decidedly a minor country.)Since then, floorbally has been growing at a really quick pace (think Moore´s law) for a decade, and is now one of the largest sports in the country. It is also a major sport in Finland, Switzerland, and Norway. Worldwide, there are √≥ver 200000 floorball players, which exceeds the participation numbers of many sports that are more high-profile in the USA.

In contrast to basketball, floorball does not place a big premium on any physical trait. It is the polar opposite of basketball in that regard - there is no other sport in which work ethic is more important in comparison to raw talent. Also, it has an inherently low injury rate (none of them serious) and it is very easy for a PE teacher to deal with. That is because it was designed to that very end - the design criteria for the rules was that the stuff should be cheap, durable, lend itself to any gym hall, and in general be the dream of a PE teacher. Also, when two teams of complete beginners are given gear, they can easily become much better by just playing it, with little dedicated coaching needed until they reach a fairly advanced level.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but New York just released a big list of teachers by name and their value added scores. I know you're skeptical of the quality of these score, but it would be interesting to see if there are any hate patterns when looking at the scores by demographics.

Mike said...

Ultimate Frisbee is a relatively new sport that's grown a lot in the last ~15 years. Whether that's because of, or in spite of, its strongly SWPL demographic is an open question.

Anonymous said...

I have always thought they should raise the basketball hoop so that the difference between the average player height and the hoop size is the same proportion it was when the sport was invented. Plainly, the concept of the sport wasn't supposed to be having a bunch of really tall people battling over who gets to march up to the net and drop the ball in...

AmericanGoy said...

"When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue."

About time an American noticed the fact.

Basketball is a sport for tall freaks of nature, American football is a sport for fat people, and baseball is for our grandparents.

Give me good footie or rugby any day...

Anonymous said...

The only new team sports that I can think of:
Paintball 1981
Airsoft (Paintball with small plastic pellets) mid 1980s

Any others?

Beecher Asbury said...

Basketball is a sport for tall freaks of nature, American football is a sport for fat people,...

Started to read this comment and then discovered this guy is an idiot who knows nothing.

Anonymous said...

Aononymous, Quidditch is a new team sport. Texas A&M's team is in the top ten.

Anonymous said...

One day in '98, some 6'3" swimmers and water polo players showed up. They won easily, walked off, and never appeared again.

I've played basketball and other sports with swimmers. They're in great shape and obviously great at what they do, swimming, but they're among the most uncoordinated and awkward guys I've encountered.

helene edwards said...

And I'll bet an average basketball player will make a better baseball player than vice versa.

You're a moron. An elite basketball player couldn't even put a ball in play against a J.C. pitcher who will never get within 2steps of the majors.

Anonymous said...

True modern state

These debates are always silly and pointless.

One hundred years from now, there will probably be people saying that we didn't "true" individual rights until gay rights, and that we didn't have a "true" "modern" state until gay marriage was enacted.

Mr Lomez said...

"Sports differ markedly in how easy it is to predict professional success, with basketball being the easiest, probably because height is so important and obvious."

You're half right.

Height, by itself, is not nearly as important to basketball as people think. Basketball players are the ultimate polymaths of athletes--where only through a sufficient confluence of height, quickness, agility, hand-eye, and power can one succeed at the highest level.

Baseball is much more a combination of power and hand-eye. Football, power and speed.

The reason people obsess over height with basketball is because, as you said, it's easily and obviously measurable. It isn't, however, in itself, predictive. At all.

Most major NBA busts of the last 30 years, in fact, are a result of this kind of flawed, reductive thinking. Darko Milicic, Olawakandi, Shawn Bradley, Sam Bowie, Kwame Brown, Jonathan Bender. Etc.

Why, then, does the NBA have such a relatively good track record predicting pro success?

Compared to baseball:
The MLB draft is for players that are still, on average, 5 years away from playing at the highest level. During those development years, a lot can happen. Basketball doesn't have that problem. For the most part, NBA draftees are ready to go right now. In other words, with basketball, you know what you're getting. In baseball, you have to project into the future.

Compared to football:
The NFL game is fundamentally different than the pro game. NFL draft busts don't happen because a player's physical tools are inadequate, they happen because his mental tools are inadequate. The NFL has mental demands that college game doesn't. It is nearly impossible to predict whether a given athlete will be able to meet those demands or not, until he is faced with them. NBA basketball on the other hand, if anything, is even less cerebral than the college game.

beowulf said...

OT, @Steve, not from The Onion:
....
Do you want that paragraph about "invented team sports" right there in the last third?

The other thing better than OT comments is when Steve is told HE'S off his own topic. :o)

beowulf said...

bored teams would purposely fritter away later-round choices on random tall people, celebrities, and women.

Sounds like our electoral system.
:o)

No Name said...

Yes, the height advantage is Basketballs real flaw. You can be a total Klutz (see Mark Eaton) but if you're tall enough you can make millions as an NBA center.

The fact is thousands can do what Magic and Bird did - but they weren't 6 feet 9 inches. IOW, you can be a fantastic BB player, but if you're not > 6' 5" your chances of playing forward and center in the NBA are almost zero. This rules out 98 percent of all American men.

Soccer and Baseball have real normal sized athletes.

Anonymous said...

And I'll bet an average basketball player will make a better baseball player than vice versa.

Remember Michael Jordan, not an average basketball player, tried to play baseball professionally.

Beecher Asbury said...

You're a moron. An elite basketball player couldn't even put a ball in play against a J.C. pitcher who will never get within 2steps of the majors.

I know he did not make it, but Michael Jordan put the ball into play in the minors which is certainly above JC level. I thought he showed some talent and probably could have gone that route had he specialized earlier in life.

Anonymous said...

In basketball, you essentially have a play every 20-30 seconds where one team tries to get the ball in the basket and either fails or succeeds. Immediately afterward the cycle starts over, with no real connection to the previous cycle.

I'm not sure it's that discrete and discontinuous, with no connection between plays.

Runs are a major part of basketball games. Good continuous play, and good defensive plays leading to good offensive plays and so on, are common during games. In college games, this is even more noticeable because there are 2 halves, rather than 4 quarters, so the game is interrupted less. Teams usually need to change strategy to stop or slow down runs by opposing teams.

jody said...

"Have any new team sports been invented in the last generation?"

not that i'm aware of, no. volleyball or handball were the most recent team sports to go international, i think. and that was over 50 years ago.

triathlon is new, but it's not a team sport. MMA is not new, but it is "new" in it's modern version. but also not a team sport.

as with most things, europeans developed all the team sports in current international play. "the vibrant" almost never develop major sports. fortunately the europeans have created plenty of great sports so when they're long gone in a few hundred years, the vibrant will have stuff to occupy themselves with. they don't need to worry their diverse minds about coming up with new sports. the evil, boring, dreadfully unvibrant white guys already created a dozen for them.

"When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue."

nah. just being tall doesn't guarantee you much in hoops. you have to be tall and good enough.

barely paying attention said...

Even though you can't coach height, traditional skill hasn't been eliminated from the game, far from it. Defense has continued to develop in the NBA (look at international players) and didn't you have a post up a month ago about Manute Bol and "The Air Up There?" In contrast to football the pure tactical stratagems never matter as much as intensity, so I guess if you prefer the former style of game basketball now sucks. But you still can't just start a random tall British gay guy who doesn't care and expect great. Granted to get on board with this 10,000 hours crap is reality-denying reactionary sentimentality posing as scientific moneyball.

Fenris said...

"Most astounding physical specimens I've ever seen. Guys 6 foot 6 and taller built like weight lifters, and still capable of sprinting, jumping and moving like Olympic level acrobats. Their ball handling and shooting skills were off the charts."

You have never been around olympic level acrobats apparently.
The advantage in movement speed, relative strength, power, coordination and agility between NBA players and olympic acrobats is almost certainly significantly wider in favor of the acrobats then the height gap is in favor of the NBA players.

Now I haven't really worked with any NBA guys but I have worked with collegiate bball players. They are tall, somewhat muscular and good at basketball skills but overall they are not super impressive atheletes.

In my experience a good quality gymnast(elite but not national team level about the equivalent of DI basketball player) can usually pull 2.5x Bodyweight on deadlift, squat 2xBW, and bench 1.5 times without every training those specific elements he will vertical around 30 inches and broad jump 10 feet. Then when you look at the specific strength elements the do which other athletes can't even get close to its ridiculous, ask any other athlete to do very very basic gymnastics strength and they will fail completely. The iron cross is an easy skill for most gymnasts it will take 2-3 years for most other athletes to approach that skill.

College bballers norms are something liek 1.5x squat usua1ly with crappy depth, 2.75 deadlift. 25-26 vert, 9 foot broad and they are clumsy compared to other athletes. There are top guys are impressive for sure. Derek rose could have been a champion pole vaulter or decathalete or elite NFL wide out. Same for MJ, Lebron is a freak but overall Bballers are not the most impressive athletes in my experience.

Compare the numbers form the NBA and NFL combines NFL skill guys always jump higher and farther and bench more then NBA guys even the guards.

Anonymous said...

"I have always thought they should raise the basketball hoop so that the difference between the average player height and the hoop size is the same proportion it was when the sport was invented."

I have a better idea.

If a black guy scores, it's 2 pts.
If a white guy scores, it's 4 pts.
If a Mexican guy scores, it's 6 pts.
If an Asian guy scores, it's 8 pts.
If a woman scores, it's 15 pts.
If a midget scores, its 20 pts.

Then NBA will truly be diverse.

Anonymous said...

"And I'll bet an average basketball player will make a better baseball player than vice versa.
Remember Michael Jordan, not an average basketball player, tried to play baseball professionally."

He didn't make it but with lots of practice, he might have been an okay player.
But Pete Rose, even after much training, wouldn't have been any good at basketball at all.

Anonymous said...

Competitive synchronized skating started in the mid Seventies and is one of the few sports where everyone is supposed to look, act, and move exactly the same.

Anonymous said...

"I have always thought they should raise the basketball hoop so that the difference between the average player height and the hoop size is the same proportion it was when the sport was invented."

John Wooden thought that the hoop should be raised to 11 ft. and that offensive rebounds should be kicked out beyond the foul line before shots could be taken again i.e. no tip-ins and the like.

Anonymous said...

"When you think about it, basketball's kind of a stupid sport because it gives such an advantage to height, which is a randomly genetic attribute, not an earned virtue"

Someone mentioned cricket, the best fast bowler these days is, arguably, Dale Steyn from South Africa who stands at about 5'10''.
Then there's the slinga Malinga from Sri Lanka who is the better bowler in T20 and stands at mere 5'7''

The best living batsman being Sachin Tendulkar who at 5'5" is hard to spot off the field.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Love won the 3-pt. contest today, and he's a big man at 6'10".

Larry Bird was 6'9". Magic Johnson was 6'9" as well and a point guard.

Anonymous said...

Basketball is a stupid sport because it rewards a random gene? Dumbest thing you've ever said. Every sport rewards a random gene by the time you become pro. Basketball is the best sport just because the random genes it rewards are more exclusive. Nothing in football or baseball or soccer was as fun as watching Jordan in his prime, and nothing in sports today is as fun as watching wade and lebron. That seems too obvious to even argue with now that I think about it.

Steve Sailer said...

A lot more people around the world think Lionel Messi is the best athlete, precisely because he isn't drawn from the extreme right hand of the height bell curve.

Why can't there be a team sport that provides much of what's best about basketball without the overemphasis on height?

Anonymous said...

Why can't there be a team sport that provides much of what's best about basketball without the overemphasis on height?

Is there an "overemphasis" on height? The tallest guys aren't necessarily the best players.

It may be more about optimizing height and athleticism. The best players tend to be those who are very tall from the standpoint of the regular population and very athletic, like Jordan and Lebron.

If two people of different height are of equal athletic ability, isn't the taller one "better" because he can cover more ground and stuff, has greater leverage, can generate more force, etc. due to physics?

Anonymous said...

Arena football is fairly new and has had moderate success in the US.
Rugby 7s is a fairly new rugby variant and will be in the 2016 Olympics.
Most outdoor sports have had an indoor variant invented in the last 30 years or so. Partly due to all the indoor arenas built in recent decades. Those arena owners are always looking for new sporting events to host. Hockey and basketball games are the bread and butter.

I'm surprised nobody ever invented an indoor variant of baseball. There is an indoor cricket variant, but not baseball.

Infrastructure is a big deal. We have lots of hockey rink size arenas. That's the size constraint for indoor sports.

One reason Australian Rules Football can't expand much -- almost no other country has stadiums big enough for the damn field. Cricket has the same problem here in the US -- to big for our stadiums.

Rugby has a chance to build off the new soccer stadiums built here in the US

Anonymous said...

New team sports face a much harder time breaking in to the marketplace. It's already pretty crowded. Individual sports vastly easier.
New sports in recent decades:
BMX
Skateboarding
Supercross
Motocross
Arenacross (indoor Supercross)
Endurocross
Monster Trucks
Nascar Truck racing

Motorsports are the easiest new sport to start because the manufacturers are happy to bankroll a sport to advertise the vehicles.

Nobody watches snowmobile racing, but the snowmobile makers are happy to fund it, cause people who buy snowmobiles will pay attention to it.

Sports with cheap equipment have to achieve a lot of popularity to attract equipment manufacturers. Gotta sell a lot of basketballs to equal one snowmobile or dirtbike.

Anonymous said...

Steve, why pretend that these ideas are radical? It's pretty mainstream that in sports biology trumps all, almost. Even the libs acknowledge this as much.

Hail said...

Steve Sailer wrote:
"Why can't there be a team sport that provides much of what's best about basketball without the overemphasis on height?"

Weren't the baskets originally 10 or more feet off the ground? That might be fun to watch.

Alternatively, we could keep the baskets at their current height, but break competitive basketball down the way boxing is. One league would be open only to players under-6', one league for 6'-6'5"ers, one league for 6'5"ers to 6'10"ers, etc.

jody said...

fenris, the problem with gymnasts is that they are too small to matter. way too small. they have a very high power to weight ratio, but they're garbage in terms of athletic ability because of that. they could not play any team sport at a high level.

they're like small athletes in strength sports. they put out twice as many units of force per unit of weight as big athletes in strength sports. but they're still like 10 times less effective in absolute terms. if 5-4 130 pound guys could play any of the international ball sports at the highest level, a few would be. but none are.

steve, i don't see how soccer, rugby, or ice hockey don't provide what you're looking for in a sport.

Anonymous said...

"Both of Lin's parents are around 5'6" or something while he's 6'2". Do you think this sort of thing might have been involved with Lin?"

This is one of the most asinine speculations on Lin's physical attributes I've read on this site - you have any idea what that height-increasing surgery involves?

Some of Sailer's readers strike me as being insular, stay-at-home types who don't see much of the world, so here's a helpful observation - the vast majority of young overseas Chinese I know tower over their parents. The difference is simply nutrition.

Anonymous said...

I think lacrosse could be considered a "new" sport. It's actually a very old sport, but much of its growth has been recent, over the past 2, 3 decades or so.

Anonymous said...

The difference is simply nutrition.

What kind of "nutrition" though?

"Nutritional" supplements, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Weren't the baskets originally 10 or more feet off the ground? That might be fun to watch.

Fun? It'd probably be really bad. Lots of airballs and dead plays.

Alternatively, we could keep the baskets at their current height, but break competitive basketball down the way boxing is. One league would be open only to players under-6', one league for 6'-6'5"ers, one league for 6'5"ers to 6'10"ers, etc.

This would probably be pretty bad as well.

Anonymous said...

Why can't there be a team sport that provides much of what's best about basketball without the overemphasis on height?

Maybe indoor soccer?

Endurance seems to factor heavily in regular soccer.

With indoor soccer, the field is smaller and there are walls, so the ball doesn't go out of bounds but rebounds off the wall.

There used to be an indoor soccer league in the US during the 90s.

I've played in an indoor soccer field, and it's a lot of fun and fast-paced. The field isn't big like in regular soccer so there isn't a lot of walking around.

Here's a clip from the indoor soccer league in the US that was around for a few years in the 90s:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8j5cHKVw0I

Anonymous said...

Height helps in soccer too, doesn't it? For goalie and for the corner kicks where the guys jump and try to head it in, and for headers in general.

Height might also help players physically push players out. And a quick, tall guy might be able to cover ground faster with long strides. And he might be able to kick better because he can generate more torque with longer legs.

Anonymous said...

Height seems like it can almost always be an advantage in sports. Randy Johnson's height worked to his advantage, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Weren't the baskets originally 10 or more feet off the ground? That might be fun to watch.

Alternatively, we could keep the baskets at their current height, but break competitive basketball down the way boxing is. One league would be open only to players under-6', one league for 6'-6'5"ers, one league for 6'5"ers to 6'10"ers, etc.


There's Slamball, which has trampolines built into the court around the baskets that players can use to jump higher:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL8T2IQHy8M

Anonymous said...

Gheorge Muresan was 7'7". His parents were 5'9" and 5'7". Muresan had a pituitary disorder though.

Aaron B. said...

"The reason people obsess over height with basketball is because, as you said, it's easily and obviously measurable. It isn't, however, in itself, predictive."

Perhaps you don't know what the word predictive means. The taller a person is, the more likely he is to be a star basketball player. That's the definition of predictive.

It's true that there seems to be a point of diminishing returns, such that really tall people, over 7'2" or so, are often so clumsy that they can't handle the ball well enough to play. Yet even a clumsy, slow 7'2" guy can make a good salary in the NBA as a backup center. The sweet spot seems to be about 6'9" or 6'10", like Bird, Magic, and Jordan. No, those aren't the tallest people in the world, but they're still freakishly tall.

Saying that height isn't predictive in basketball is like giving computer programmers an IQ test, finding that they tend to fall in the 120-160 range, and then saying IQ isn't predictive of computer skills because people with 160+ IQs are underrepresented and one guy scored 98.

By the way, folks, Steve never said it was just about height. He said it was a huge advantage. Two different things. The "best" player on my high school team was slow, had a 2-inch vertical leap, and couldn't make a basket from more than about 5 feet away. But he was 6 inches taller than most of us or our opponents, and heavy enough that he couldn't be shoved out of the lane. I was a more skilled basketball player in every way, and so were most of the other guys, but he was our dominant player. People who say height isn't that important must never have played the game.

stari_momak said...

It's oh so great for local High School kids that we now have scouts around the world looking for freaks of nature, so that the local idiot boosters can pull a 'blind side' from a world wide 'talent' pool

http://tinyurl.com/74lw4n750

Anonymous said...

New team sports are very difficult to develop. The cultural niche is filled in most nations. Team sports are mainly a way to channel the aggression and free time of young men. Back when we were all farmers nobody had the free time. It was only with long periods of education that team sports became so important in society.

It's no surprise that most of our sports started in English boarding schools.

Prior to the wealth and leisure created by the Industrial Revolution, almost nobody had the free time to devote to sport. The idea of hundreds or thousands of teen-age boys with nothing to occupy their time is fairly new in human history.

Anonymous said...

The sweet spot seems to be about 6'9" or 6'10", like Bird, Magic, and Jordan.

Jordan was 6'6".

Also, aren't NBA teams known for rounding their players' heights up an inch or so? Jordan may be 6'4.5", 6'5" for all we know.

Truth said...

Of course height is a huge advantage in basketball, if you're 6'0 180, you're not guarding a guy 7'1 255, even if you are 3 levels of ability better.

Re gymnasts; they are remarkable athletes; the difference is this: Every gymnast competes in a sport in which HE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. This is the case in man vs judge sports, as opposed to man vs. man.

No, Michael Jordan would not be able to execute an iron cross, but I'd like to see Kurt Thomas bring the basketball up 90 ft. with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley trying to take it away, then make a move a the foul line and try to get a shot off over Kevin Garnett's fingertips.

I've always felt that male and female gymasts, given the correct mental makeup, would make great fighters; boxers and MMA'ers. Of course they are small, and a 5'5 145 lb. guy would probably get beaten to death by undersized, macho Mexicans who would be ashamed to lose to them, in sparring.

Anonymous said...

Why can't there be a team sport that provides much of what's best about basketball without the overemphasis on height?

Steve, what about handball?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWjiOGuDQr8

It's similar to basketball in many ways. Similar dimensions of the court, similar number of players (7), very fast, lots of contact, fast breaks, similar actions - players have to pass, dribble, or shoot, etc. But the goal is ground level rather than in the air at a height, so height is less emphasized than in basketball.

You could also tweak it to make it even more like basketball while still avoiding the overemphasis on height. For example by making the goal smaller and getting rid of full time goalies.

Anonymous said...

Watch the handball clips. You can see how it emphasizes similar abilities as basketball - speed, quickness, hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, leaping ability, etc. without the overemphasis on height.

Anonymous said...

Check out this awesome handball goal on the fast break:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlyLXRQMN6c

No Name said...

"Is there an "overemphasis" on height? The tallest guys aren't necessarily the best players."

This is the kind of dumb response you get on the internet. As stated before you cannot play power Forward and Center in the NBA unless you are at least 6' 7". You can't play small forward unless you are 6'5". How many Americans are at least 6'7? 1 out of a hundred? 1 out of a thousand?

As Bol and Mark Eaton proved, you can barely Walk and chew gum at the same time and still be an NBA player if you are simply tall enough.

Magic couldn't do anything that a hundred other point guards could do - its just that Magic was 6'9" and not 6'2 or 6'0".

The NFL is somewhat similar. You can't be a Lineman or Linebacker/Tight-end unless you're freakishly big. How many Americans weigh 220 lbs with 15 percent Body fat? That's the absolute minimum to play 14 of the 22 positions. In fact you need to more like 230 for linebacker and 250 to be a lineman.

They're freaks like Sumo wrestlers. By comparison, Hank Aaron was 5'10" and Babe Ruth was 6'2" and weighed 190 lbs before the middle-aged spread.

Anonymous said...

As stated before you cannot play power Forward and Center in the NBA unless you are at least 6' 7".

Yeah you can.

Charles Barkley was a great power forward and he was under 6'7". He was listed at 6'6" but was really 6'4"-6'5". He made up for it with strength and hustle. Not only was he undersized, but he was considered somewhat fat and out of shape. And he was great all around, a great rebounder and defender and shot blocker.

Anonymous said...

The hell with Lin and stupid basketball. White dude wins sumo cup in a stupider sport where fatties win.

Fenris said...

Jody and Truth my contention was not that Gymnasts could play b-ball at a high level if they wanted to. Simply that saying NBA players are comparably agile is ridiculous and that overall Bballers are not that impressive. Compare the vertical jump and running speed of top NBA draft picks to to top NFL skill players its not even close.

Anonymous said...

Another reason for a lack of nobodies in the NBA is the 12 man roster, compared to 25 in MLB, and 53 in the NFL. Plus there are plenty of pro basketball leagues in Europe where excess players can go, whereas only Japan has a comparable pro baseball league to the US, and only Canada ( barely ) has one in American style football. The lack of injuries in basketball relative to baseball and particularly football create fewer opportunities for nobodies to showcase their skills. A lot of them are deemed failures without really being given a chance. Lin was probably on his way to such an inglorious end until fate intervened.

Additionally coaches in the NBA are for the most part nobodies, who on most teams get fired with regularity ( It's not unusual for a coach in the NBA to sometimes get fired only a month into a season ), whereas in baseball and football the coaches/managers have more authority to piss off the resident superstar and take chances with a team that isn't winning. The players run the show in the NBA, they have long term guaranteed contracts and are the focus of their teams marketing efforts, whereas a coach might have never coached before and is therefore easily expendable.

Aaron B. said...

>>"As stated before you cannot play power Forward and Center in the NBA unless you are at least 6' 7"."

Yeah you can. Charles Barkley was a great power forward and he was under 6'7".


Good grief. Have you never heard the phrase "the exception that proves the rule"? Barkley was extremely tenacious, had great instincts for where the ball was going, and could move like a cat compared to most guys with his physique. So yes, this made it possible for him to compete at a couple inches higher than expected. Again, no one said height is the only factor. But if he'd been 5'10" instead of 6'5" or so, his career would have ended with a partial scholarship to a secondary state school, and no amount of "strength and hustle" would have changed that.

I'm surprised to hear Jordan was only 6'6". I guess his vertical leap and hang-time made him seem taller. But again: had he been 5'6", you wouldn't know his name today.

Anonymous said...

I'd be the last to defend anything about the NBA, but comparing the overall athleticism of ballers vs. gymnasts is ludicrous. Gymnasts do something exactly the same way, with no outside agency involved, for thousands of repetitions hoping to get it perfect. I'd take Troofie's analogy further; one day Kobe has to battle a defender like Rondo harassing him all night, two nights later he has someone not as quick and is recovering a high ankle sprain, and a player like Kobe can impose his will on the game.

The pommel horse, on the other hand, is what it is.

JW Ogden said...

Yes but Guard in basketball is much more effected by developed skills than any position in football other than quarterback.

Anonymous said...

But again: had he been 5'6", you wouldn't know his name today.

Mugsy Bogues is 5'3". People know his name.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to hear Jordan was only 6'6". I guess his vertical leap and hang-time made him seem taller. But again: had he been 5'6", you wouldn't know his name today.

Dwayne Wade is just 6'4", but he's a great shot blocker:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204653604577249381540226346.html

ben tillman said...

Mugsy Bogues is 5'3". People know his name.

Yeah, it's Tyrone.

Anonymous said...

Muggsy Bogues was fun to watch. It was like watching a long pygmy among bantus.

Anonymous said...

*lone pygmy, not long

Anonymous said...

Spud Webb was only 5'7" and he was a great dunker.

Anonymous said...

If a black guy scores, it's 2 pts.
If a white guy scores, it's 4 pts.
If a Mexican guy scores, it's 6 pts.
If an Asian guy scores, it's 8 pts.
If a woman scores, it's 15 pts.
If a midget scores, its 20 pts.


Where do Jews fit on this list? Or Scots, Irish, Armenians, Indians?

Anonymous said...

Competitive synchronized skating started in the mid Seventies and is one of the few sports where everyone is supposed to look, act, and move exactly the same.

Gee, just like middle/high school!