Equal parts Freakonomics, Moneyball, and “Mythbusters”, SCORECASTING inexorably changes our sports perspective. Gathering statistics is easy. Making sense of them is hard. Until now.
In “SCORECASTING: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won”, Tobias J. Moskowitz, a University of Chicago financial economist, teams with L. Jon Wertheim, a veteran Sports Illustrated writer to explore the hidden forces that shape how football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer games are played, won, and lost. With a combination of first-rate analysis and first-rate storytelling, Moskowitz and Wertheim not only mine the relevant data but also go beyond the numbers to explore the human biases and behavior that affect nearly every pitch, pass, and penalty. In the process, they challenge and overturn some of the most cherished truisms of sports, delivering readers from the sports clichés and misstatements that have dominated for decades.
Does defense truly win championships? Is there really such a thing as momentum in sports? Does icing the kicker work? Are the Chicago Cubs cursed? Are officials biased? Can you really quantify the subjective aspects of sports, like officiating?
They challenge the prevailing wisdom that we accept as articles of faith. Test the unconventional strategies. Reveal the hidden influences. And introduce readers to omnipresent game-changers like “hindsight bias”, “loss aversion”, “omission bias”, “ref bias” and our deepest desires to conform to the group.
Among the insights that SCORECASTING reveals:
- What is really driving the home field advantage in all sports?
- Officials are biased…but not for the reasons you think.
- Using all four downs in football is still considered sports heresy. Wrongly, but everyone punts, right?
- Tiger Woods is, in fact, mortal . . . even on the golf course.
- Why picking first in the entire NFL draft might be worth less than the first pick in the second round.
- Why star players are treated differently (but not necessarily better) by the officials?
- Why the Cubs may not be so unlucky.
- The myth of momentum in sports and why so many fans, coaches, and broadcasters fervently believe in it.
The authors prove time and again, that teams ignore data and diverse views at their own peril.
In an engaging narrative that takes us from the putting greens of Augusta to the gridiron of a small parochial high school in Arkansas, SCORECASTING will quite simply change the way we look at sports.