Monday, January 23, 2012

How Rooting for QB's Shows Our Biases

With the Superbowl approaching (I predict a Giants win, although I will root for the Pats)and Tebow fever cooled off a bit, I've been thinking about how my own biases shade the conclusions I draw about QB's, and how this spills into how people see the world.

Back in the late 20th century, the Buffalo Bills had an unconventional QB named Doug Flutie, who had been a legend in college, but was judged by the football establishment to not be suitable for the NFL. So, he had gone to the CFL and kicked ass for a few years, then was signed as a backup by the Bills. The Bills starter was Rob Johnson, big, strongarmed, the prototype of what an NFL QB should be. Only, the Bills started out horribly, in large part because Johnson was not smart enough to play QB in the NFL. When his slow brain caused him to get sacked enough times that he became injured, in came Flutie, and the Bills started winning. For the next 2 years there was a controversy between Flutie, who was too short and didn't have the arm, and Johnson, who looked like a QB but sucked.

Being a short person myself, I was always on the side of Flutie, and certainly the wins and losses of the 2 QB's made it clear he was the better player. So, I overlooked many of his deficiencies. I still have a box of Flutie Flakes. And, while I still believe he was the better of the 2 QB's, that is not saying much, as Johnson never lived up to expectations. Clearly though, my reaction to Flutie was in part due to my identifying with him as a little guy.

This season in Denver, and unconventional QB took over a strugging team and they started winning, just like the Bills did under Flutie. But Tebow is a demonstrative Christian who prays when he scores, and I am an athiest sickened when athletes praise God when they win. (Kudos, though, to Stevie Johnson for blaming God when he dropped a pass last year. Based on his play this year, God must still be pissed at him).

So, what did I see when I watched Tebow. A guy who threw funny, who couldn't find an open guy, who missed open recievers by so much that his passes couldn't even be intercepted. The Broncos won because their D had suddenly become airtight, keeping the team in the game while Tebow sucked until he could pull off a 4th quarter miracle. Meanwhile, a lot of other people saw a winner, a great leader, a super hero inspired by God.

While I don't think Tebow will have much of a career in the NFL, I will certainly admit that my opinion is somewhat shaded by my dislike of on field praying. Am I more likely to see the weaknesses in Tebow than I was in Flutie? You betcha. I could tell you to just look at Tebow's stats and you'll see that he sucks. And it's true, except that W-L stat, that says he's a winner.

The problem with the world is that this is how we look at all sorts of things that are way more important than football (yes, there are some things!). If you are a conservative, you look at our struggling economy and say that it hasn't recovered because the stimulus made it worse. If you Paul Krugman, you say the stimulus kept us out of another Great Depression, and should have been bigger. And both sides have educated people who can make rational arguments for their opinion. How they see it is shaded by their bias.

I try to be fair and look for truth, but I have biases. In the interest of fairness, I encourage you to watch the Keynes-Hayek rap, and tell me both Economists don't make sense.