November 25, 2013

Sports as a Learning Tool

   Every so often, I find myself intrigued again by professional sports.  It is not like hero worship - it's just the one place where the focus on getting better is statistically supported by objective evidence that is measured over the duration of a season.  Baseball with 162 games per year takes the cake - the 100+ year history makes the records significant over a large period - very small standard deviation in individual performance.  Basketball with 81 games also has enough juice for good prediction.  Football and 16 games is not enough - thus the best teams often don't get anywhere near the Super Bowl in a given season.  Each comes down to one game at the end - just different amounts of stuffing in the sausage.

  For the past few years, I have not watched many games.  Yet i can read a box score and tell the flow of any game.  The statistics belie the story - a short summary and some of the derivative accounts and doc is a happy camper.  I can also have a bit o bragging rights - Portland Trailbazers have 10 in a row.  Mebbe they can even make the playoffs.  I remember when they never missed the playoffs - the days of way back when.

   I do enjoy fake sports - fantasy version.  Kudos to Yahoo! for free access with performance statistics - it is competition by reading stats.  The object is to collect trophies - win, place and show - i am about 75%.  It's becomes a matter of using the cues and knowing when outliers are relevant.  Most people couldn't even tell you what an outlier is, as they reject information that doesn't support their conclusions.  Thus logic misleads them.  Your basis set must be defined in truth - even if others do not believe your truth - the statistics are measurements that speak for themselves.  Over time, they accumulate.  You have to be able to see patterns in the manner of growth, and hence need to have many games to look over.

  This philosophy can be applied to real life learning experience.  When you do things for the first time, you find that there are two regular possibilities - it works or it doesn't work for you.  If it works, let's call it charmed, when it doesn't work, let's call it strange.  Charmed and Strange are names of quarks in physics, most because physicists are strange and wish they were charmed.  These tend to be dual sides of the same coin - the next time you repeat the task, you get the opposite flow.  This is duality in action - a yin to go with a yang.  The two together bring the full experience, but you can only observe one side at a time.

  Time allows changes that provide different options in similar circumstance.  We get more chances to reenforce good decisions and move on from bad ones.  Given objective and subjective logic, plus the experience of familiarity - we eventually get good at making decisions in areas that we pay attention to.  If we are out of practice, it takes awhile to rekindle our observance, but we get back there.  It is like bowling or bicycling - do it again and it comes back quick.  But you have to have spent the initial time learning and learning well.

  There is a big difference between hitting a curveball and choosing a career.  The batter has put in 18 years or more facing all sorts of pitching to get his stoke down and seeing the ball in flight.  And still the ultimate action with each swing is random.  Imagine if we could accept scores in the school of life that were based on true and random experience; instead of a contrived 90% for an A, 80% for a B, etc. rigidity.  Real learning doesn't need a score, except to see that we can repeat what is known correctly as we progress forward (or backward or sideways as life is not progressional, even though it seems directional).

  Nuff said for today - remember, cooperative competition - and a party of thanks afterwards.

  Namaste' ... doc

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