Risk Taking

As analytics increasingly permeate sports, we learn that taking risks has it benefits.

For example, in football going for it on first down or trying a two-point conversion instead of an extra point kick are analytically safer than they appear.

The Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl by aggressively betting on analytics all season – statistical evidence relating to the effectiveness of different play scenarios.

When push comes to shove in life, we often make the wrong decision to play it safe.

In essence we’re betting on losing or at least to avoid losing.

In a research study (featured in Gray Matter, New York Times), fans were asked to imagine that their team scored a touchdown but half the participants were told that they needed one point (an extra point kick) to tie the game.  The other group was told they needed a two-point conversion to tie.

Those who were told they only needed one point thought the two-point conversion was more likely to fail than the group that needed the two points to tie the game.

The same decision was thought to be riskier when it was seen as optional instead of unavoidable.

Taking risks is sometimes necessary to attain success.

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