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Archive for the tag “olympics”

Politically Incorrect Statistics

Warren Buffet is praised for his ability to analyze the performance of companies in which he considers investing.  He uses information about the companies to predict future performance.  He has been very successful as an investor.

Bookies take bets on sporting events and base the “odds” for winning on statistical analysis of many factors about teams and athletes.

Insurance companies use underwriters to predict life expectancies and health risks based on statistics for people in certain categories based on age, weight, family medical history, and other factors, such as whether a person smokes or consumes alcohol.  They don’t know which smokers will develop lung cancer, but they know that smokers, for example, have a higher risk statistically than do non-smokers.

The TV show Criminal Minds is about a “behavioral analysis unit” known by the acronym BAU.  They study patterns of criminal behavior to solve crimes.

Analyzing companies, teams, and individuals is apparently done using statistical information because there is value for predicting probabilities of behavior (or danger) based on statistics about past behavior or performance.

Statistics are just numbers calculated by mathematical principles.  Statistics are not mean or prejudiced about race or religion.

Despite the neutrality of the process of statistical analysis, many people get offended by what the numbers reveal.

We are not supposed to “profile” Muslim Arabs as terrorists because that is somehow “prejudiced” despite the historical facts that the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks and many other terrorist acts fit that category.  You are not paranoid (or prejudiced) if they are really after you.  The jihadists have said they are in a holy war with non-islamic people, i.e., infidels.  The statistics bear that out.

The federal government has told us recently that it needs to look at private phone records of American citizens, which many see as a violation of rights to privacy, for the greater good of protecting us.  Would it not also help protect us to focus on tracking people who “fit the profile” of terrorists?  I do not see that as islamophobia.  Wouldn’t that be for the greater good of protecting Americans?

Who says I am unlikely to become an NBA star?  Are those scouts prejudiced against me because they are considering my age, vertical leap, speed, shooting percentages and stuff like that?  They think, based on statistics, that I won’t do well in the league.

I like sports that involve timed races, such as track and swimming.  Your time is your time, regardless of color.  Is it unfair that a skewed percentage of Olympic sprinters are black and the vast majority of Olympic swimmers are white?  Oh, well!  The performances speak for themselves.  Warren Buffet probably would not bet on me to win the 100 meter event in track, you know, based on statistics, including my time in prior races.  It is what it is, whether I like it or not.  Pulling the race card does not change how fast or slow I run or swim.

I understand intellectually, but I prefer to say that I am a victim of racial profiling which, my friends, is politically incorrect.

Please join me in protesting my exclusion from the NBA.

Will Everyone Get a Medal?

Every athlete who qualified for the Olympics can be very proud of that achievement.  I congratulate all!  As the games commence and the various competitions take place, we will find out who is best in the world in each event.  And we will find out who is second best and third best and so on.  The first three places get a medal — gold, silver and bronze.  There is no medal for fourth place. 

We are used to that.  We expect it. 

In the olden days, when I started in Little League baseball, not everyone who tried out made the team.  (That is why they called it try-outs.)  Only one tearm won the championship trophy.  In swimming, they kept track of places.  In each race, only one competitor got a blue ribbon.  In high school athletics, not everyone letters, which is why each letter winner should be proud of the accomplishment.

Not many high school athletes become college athletes.  Not many college athletes make it to the pros.  We understand that because those of us who have been around for awhile are used to that pyramid of success in sports. 

I wonder if giving trophies to each participant in youth sports is a good idea.  I suppose the intent of that has something to do with self-esteem.  .  I wonder if works.  I bet that even little kids, if they are old enough to count, keep score.  They know who wins games.  They know who crosses the finish line first in races.  Isn’t it condescending to tell the kid who crosses the line last that everyone did real good and gets a blue ribbon?  Isn’t it a joke when every team gets a trophy? Does not that actually denigrate  the value of the trophy for the team that actually won the league championship?

Even if the little participants buy the ruse, is it preparing them for real life?  Will they be surprised when the trophies are passed out and they come up empty-hpanded?

I like the Olympics.  It is satisfying to see excellence recognized.  A gold medal would not mean much if everyone got one.

Win Some, Lose Some

I have been watching the Olympic Trials for swimming held in Omaha, Nebraska.  All the swimmers are top-notch to get there.  Still, everyone can’t win.  Even the great Michael Phelps does not always win.  Whoever qualifies for the Olympic team is only fractions of seconds faster than those who do not.  The top two in each event qualify.  The third place swimmers are always very close. 

I’m especially pleased that Coloradan Missy Franklin has made the team.  She is only 17. 

As this is going on in Omaha, fires in Colorado continue to rage.  As some people are being allowed back into their homes, others are being required to evacuate.  As some learn their homes are destroyed, others get good news their homes were spared.

The achievements of the athletes are the result of talent and dedication.  The races are fair.  Still, there are factors out of anyone’s control.  They don’t all have the same genes.  They don’t all have the same coaches.  Some might be fighting health problems.

The victims of the fire had no control over weather.  Those losing their homes should not be blamed for choosing to live in a certain location.  No one could predict the fire nor its path.

The Bible says, “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  Those in the fire say, “Rain on me.”

Senior Olympics

The REAL OLYMPICS will be in London this summer in just a few weeks.  Those competitions between the best of the best athletes inspire many of us to do our best in our own athletic endeavors.

A few years ago, very few, I reached the age which allowed me to participate in the Senior Olympics.  I have been very impressed by the national and state organizations which put on these senior games.  I have met some great folks as I participated in swimming competitions.

The way it works is that the top three finishers in each event in state competitions qualify for the National Senior Games, which are held every other year.  As you would expect, many of the senior athletes are former college athletes and some even former Olympians.  When I swam at Stanford for the national games, it was intimidating when they announced, “In lane three, former Olympic medalist, Gary Hall.”   I will break the suspense right now and tell you that this is not a story about how I beat him.  I did not beat him.  We were not even in the same heat.

Another fellow I did not beat was a former NCAA breaststroke champion, who was only one second off his record time.  I was warming up when I heard him and another guy in my event talking.  They were both from Big Ten schools.

I also watched some of the other sports.  I saw old pole vaulters who could still go what looked high to me.  I don’t know how many feet high, but I watched an official get on a stepladder to raise the bar with a tool that must have put the bar over ten feet high.  Three athletes went over the bar at that height.  Maybe it was twelve feet.  Think of the acceleration, upper body strength and coordination required.  Very impressive!

Another man who impressed me was someone who did not qualify for the national championships.  He finished all his swimming events at the state games in last place.  He did not dive in off the starting block.   He had to be lowered into the pool from a wheel chair.   He started in the water, just pushing off the pool wall.   He was very slow but kept going until he finished.  He needed help getting out of the pool and into his chair.  I am embarrassed to confess that I was a little irritated at having to wait for him to finish, which delayed the next event of the meet.  Didn’t he know that he didn’t have a chance to qualify for the national games?

After two days of state competition, there was an award banquet.  The slow swimmer was one of the speakers.  He told his story that he was a wounded veteran and was competing in the Senior Olympics to try to get prepared for other games especially for disabled veterans.  He also told us how these athletic competitions changed his life, even saved his life.  He described his health problems, including that in the past he had weighed over 500 pounds.  He had some medical emergency a few years ago.  He said he did not fit into the MRI machine.  He nearly died.

As part of his recovery he started swimming.  He started shooting basketballs from his chair.  He said, “I’m not very good, but I like to do these sports.  The exercise has helped me lose 270 pounds.”  He got a standing ovation.  He was a winner after all.

Bless his heart!  And bless the many volunteers who put on these events for us old folks.

If you are over 50 years of age, check out the Senior Olympics.  You might have some fun.

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