Tebow Time: Is God or Math the Explanation for Tim Tebow's Success?
Sabermetrics shows us that every time Tim Tebow touches the ball he costs his team points in comparison to the performance of the average NFL quarterback. And yet, he wins.
From 2011-2014, Daniel Honan was the Managing Editor at Big Think. Prior to Big Think, Daniel was Vice President of Production for Plum TV, a niche cable network he helped launch in 2002. The production team he oversaw won over two dozen Emmy awards. Daniel has created numerous shows and documentaries for television, and his film credits include Stealing the Fire, a documentary on the black market for nuclear weapons technology.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielHonan
In a very short time, Tim Tebow has become the most polarizing NFL player in a generation. There are many reasons for this, but one thing that has fascinated fans and foes alike is Tebow's apparent ability to rally his team, the Denver Broncos, when it matters the most.
Tebow's performance on the field is extremely uneven. He'll often stink it up for three quarters only to become what The New York Times describes as "a Hall of Fame candidate in the Fourth." His efforts contributed to a crucial six-game winning streak that helped land Denver in the playoffs, and last week Tebow led the Broncos to a first-round victory with a touchdown pass in overtime. What is the explanation for his success? And how has Tebow been able to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds again and again? Do certain athletes possess the ability to elevate their game simply by willing it? Does Tebow share a common gene with Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan? Or is it divine intervention (43 percent of Americans believed so in a recent poll)?
If you are like me and believe that God has greater concerns than the outcome of a football game, you are left in search of another explanation.
Let's try this one:
-0.29 WPA, -13.6 EPA, -0.04 WPA/G, -0.05 EPA/P, 38.0 SR%, 34.3 %DEEP, 4.4 AYPA
What do these numbers mean? These mathematical measures of Tebow's performance are known as sabermetrics. These measures include things like win probability, win probability added, expected points added per play, etc. A full explanation for what these statistics mean can be found here, but the bottom line is that during the first six games that Tebow started that are measured above, his numbers were terrible. In fact, sabermetrics shows us that every time Tim Tebow touched the ball he cost his team points in comparison to the performance of the average NFL quarterback. And yet, the Denver Broncos won five of the six games sampled here. So what's going on?
There are many factors at play here, such as the strength of Denver's opponent, the strength of Denver's defense, and the relative unimportance of the forward pass to Denver's success. In short, Denver runs the ball a lot (including Tebow). Denver has a great running back in Willis McGahee. Denver also has a great field-goal kicker in Matt Prater, who tied one game with a 59-yard field goal and won it with another 51-yarder. In the final analysis, Tim Tebow simply plays a limited role in Denver victories relative to other quarterbacks in the NFL. And yet, he wins. Isn't that the point of the game?
Full disclosure: this writer will be rooting for Tom Brady on Saturday.
Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @DanielHonan
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Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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