Smart Links – grit, brain injuries, football playoffs – 3/15/2011

Blind spots of economists. What are some blind spots for football coaches (and fans)?

What traits predict success? Punchline:

The second takeaway involves the growing recognition of “non-cognitive” skills like grit and self-control. While such traits have little or nothing to do with intelligence (as measured by IQ scores), they often explain a larger share of individual variation when it comes to life success. It doesn’t matter if one is looking at retention rates at West Point or teacher performance within the Teach for America program or success in the spelling bee: Factors like grit are often the most predictive variables of real world performance. Thomas Edison was right: even genius is mostly just perspiration.

Taken together, these studies suggest that our most important talent is having a talent for working hard, for practicing even when practice isn’t fun. It’s about putting in the hours when we’d rather be watching TV, or drilling ourselves with notecards filled with obscure words instead of getting quizzed by a friend. Success is never easy. That’s why talent requires grit.

The 2011 Sloan MIT Conference Papers are up. There are no football papers because football is too complicated. Seriously.

Hockey is beginning to come around on head injuries as well.

“It turns out” you read this.

Dr Saturday’s college football playoff proposal. Brian Cook offers some thoughts; my old playoff vs. BCS vs. who knows rumblings can be found here and here.

The day the movies died. Do people buy this? (1) I don’t know if I agree that movies will continue to get worse (the internet provides more avenues for niche audiences, etc) and (2) I’m wearing a bit thin on the after-this-movie-the-movie-industry-changed (Jaws, Star Wars, Top Gun, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Transformers 2, etc.). The movie industry changed a lot when the old contract system died, but other than that I’d guess it’s societal forces and changes in tastes. We’ve had little pockets of artistic flurry before.

And, after the jump, something depressing:


  • is that Tom Brady in the video???

  • Greg Dodge

    It is Brady.

  • Flmoffat

    That’s the tallest chick I’ve ever seen.

  • Tyler

    Blind Spots

    1. Coaches often recruit/use only one type of player for a given position within a given scheme. So often I see a mediocre player that could have been successful if the scheme had been adjusted to their talents. For example Craig Roh at Michigan has been close to an all-conference player as a weak-side even front defensive end, but Michigan used him often as a stand-up strong side linebacker in odd fronts.

    2. Only playing one QB. Or only 5 OL. Or only 3 formations. Some choices are made for the convenience of coaches rather than to the advantage of the team.

    3. Defensive Coordinators who attempt to defend everything (instead of a team’s best plays from your base defense). I coached with a defensive coordinator who was a failure because he was concerned about plays that the opposition did not or couldn’t run effectively. For example, he would defend a 21 or 12 personnel grouping with 7 men in the box because “we have to defend the deep threat.” While there is something to be said for preparing for the unexpected, preparing to face a threat that cannot effectively materialize in one week.

  • Michael Schuttke

    While a dang good quarterback, his hair, that dancing and his uber annoying “leader voice” (see the 2001 NFL Films America’s Game of the Patriots first championship and watch Brady squeak strain away his voice to “inspire” his teammates…….I’ve heard cats in heat wail with better tone than that) have all led me to find Tom Brady to be the most inspirational man alive for all of us skinny, hardworking, underdog white guys out there.

    I’m now going to go practice my white nerdiness, just like Tom!

  • Anonymous

    Brady was looking very happy