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Gladwell: Age Bias in Hockey

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Boom_70, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Anyone read Gladwell's new book yet - Outliers?
    He has an interesting observation on why there is an overwhelming amount of professional hockey players that were born in January/ Feb March.
  2. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Meaning to get this, but here's a Q&A he did with ESPN.com's Jeff Merron about the topic.

  3. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    James Mirtle, one of hockey's best bloggers, had something on this the other day.


    It's simple really. You're placed in hockey by your year of birth; however, an eight year old born in January is going to be physically stronger and more developed than one born in December. As a result, they'll likely be better hockey players AND more likely to be streamed into an elite level.

    And Gladwell didin't discover this. As one of the commenters on the blog says, Ken Dryden mentioned this in his book Home Game, published in 1989
  4. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    jr - always looking to discredit

    Actually a psychologist by the name of Roger Barnwell put forth the theory in the early 80's. Gladwell makes this clear in book.

    One thing that Gladwell does not seem to account for is multiple age league where a say a player who turns 11 in December and is forced to play up in a league with older 11's and 12's. The kid who does not turn 11 until January stays in younger league against many 9 and 10 year olds - huge difference
  5. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Boom, please try harder. I wasn't trying to discredit anybody.

    Anybody who's been involved in hockey for any length of time knows this month of birth theory but a lot of the media accounts are reporting it like it's Malcolm's idea.

    I'd suggest that the reason Gladwell may have used hockey as an example in his overall theory in Outliers is because he was raised in Canada--he grew up in SW Ontario and graduated from University of Toronto. So, he would have already been familiar with the theory as it relates to hockey players, as opposed to someone born in Arkansas.

    I don't understand your "multiple age league" scenario.

    Up here an eleven year old will either play Peewee hockey (11 & 12 year olds, if it's a small league) or Minor Peewee (exclusively 11 year olds). Peewee is for 12 year olds only.

    I don't know of a league where 11 year olds would play with 9 year olds
  6. GB-Hack

    GB-Hack Active Member

    Is there a manner in which this might apply to education?

    I know when I was growing up, since school started in late August, early September, I think the cutoff for school years was August 15. The schools I went to had multiple streams for higher or lower achieving students.
  7. Flash

    Flash Guest

    Nor I. And I was on the minor hockey beat for a long time.
  8. Huggy

    Huggy Well-Known Member

    One of our own tackles this:

  9. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    As much as "one of our own" wants to discredit Gladwell the numbers for this season's crop of NHL players support the theory:
    Birth Month Players
    January 51
    February 46
    March 61
    April 49
    May 46
    June 49
    July 36
    August 41
    September 36
    October 34
    November 33
    December 30

    Jan/ Feb / Mar/ April 203 players

    Sept / Oct/ Nov/ Dec 133 players
  10. Gladwell has a piece in the new New Yorker that touches on how difficult quarterbacks are to evaluate because of the spread in college. He ties it into the difficulties evaluating teachers. Chase Daniel is his example.

    If nothing else, it's pretty funny to read a New Yorker story aimed at foofy art types with basic football words put in quotation marks. It's very much football writing at a second-grade level.
  11. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    Story in the New Yorker follows along the lines of his book.

    Overall theory on difficulty of evaluating spread O QBs is accurate but agree that explanations from football standpoint are pretty basic.

    The gold standard still for New Yorker articles out of their element is a story done a few years ago on NASCAR.
  12. Flash

    Flash Guest

    You're really just not that bright, are you?

    JR isn't refuting the theory. He's refuting that Gladwell was the originator of the theory.
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