December 16, 2009

But where's the analysis?

I get excited about college football season. A few years ago I wrote a weekly game preview column for a Cal football fan website. I did that for two or so years and had a great time with it. I never played football, but I'm pretty good at picking out patterns in numbers and the theory of the game. In each preview, I predicted the outcome and final score (crazy true coincidence: in every single prediction I somehow came up with the Bears winning).

Then, somewhere around 2006 I got too busy to write my weekly prediction, and decided they wanted someone else to do game previews. I read the new guy's previews for a few weeks but gave up because they said nothing that I didn't already get from my local daily newspaper.

Fast forward to the 2009 season. Cal is about to play in their seventh straight bowl game. I check out the news and have a few sports sites in my feed reader. Every now and then I skim through a game preview. But they are all the same.

The articles always mention the recent wins and losses. They print quotes provided by the teams' media departments. If there's an interesting storyline (such as Jahvid Best's injury), they mention that... also typically provided by the media department. But there's literally no analysis. Nobody digs deep into the stats to see that, for example, one team consistently loses when when they average fewer than 2.5 yards per carry, or that the other team seriously outscores their opponents in the fourth quarter because their offensive line is enormous and incredibly fit. Instead, we get vapid observations like, "the team doesn't want to end on a sour note" and "they lost big in their final game after winning three in a row against ranked teams." Blah blah blah. Anyone who cares to read your game preview already knows these things.

These days, repetition masquerades as news. Because news outlets have lost the patience to analyze and think, the only way they can differentiate themselves is through sensationalism and shiny graphics.

The only place we get in-depth analysis is in the celebrity sections of tabloids. Because that's where sensationalism and analysis intersect. It's really tragic.


Blogless Troll said...

Because news outlets have lost the patience to analyze and think, the only way they can differentiate themselves is through sensationalism and shiny graphics.

But it's kind of a chicken/egg thing. If a huge chunk of your audience has lost the attention span necessary to read the analysis and think for themselves, and your competition is getting by and doing quite nicely with sensationalism and shiny graphics, then why bother? I mean unless of course you actually care about quality and aren't in it solely for the bottom line, but that concept seems rather quaint these days.

Anyway, here's my in depth analysis: Cal wins and beats the spread.

pacatrue said...

I think you have 110% when writing this blog entry.

lin said...