May 1, 2009

David Brooks on what Mozart and Tiger Woods had going for them

NYT op-ed columnist David Brooks, I have been told on reliable authority, is a regular reader of my stuff. The one time he mentioned me by name, back in 2004, he was subjected to so much sputtering rage from the kommisars that he hasn't dared since. In his recent career change toward Malcolm Gladwell-style political correctness, I seem to have served as his off-stage anti-muse, inspiring Brooks to write columns telling New York Times readers that the things they and everbody they socialize with already publicly endorse are actually daring new scientific breakthroughs.

Here's a Brooks column so Gladwellian that it could be the Reader's Digest condensation of Chapter 2 ("The 10,000-Hour Rule: 'In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours") from Gladwell's recent bestseller Outliers. It's the kind of All-American B.S. that we've heard over and over our whole lives from motivational speakers:
Genius: The Modern View
By DAVID BROOKS

Some people live in romantic ages. They tend to believe that genius is the product of a divine spark. They believe that there have been, throughout the ages, certain paragons of greatness — Dante, Mozart, Einstein — whose talents far exceeded normal comprehension, who had an other-worldly access to transcendent truth, and who are best approached with reverential awe.

We, of course, live in a scientific age, and modern research pierces hocus-pocus. In the view that is now dominant, even Mozart’s early abilities were not the product of some innate spiritual gift. His early compositions were nothing special. They were pastiches of other people’s work. Mozart was a good musician at an early age, but he would not stand out among today’s top child-performers.

Oh, boy ... How much do Gladwell and Brooks actually know about Mozart? The point is not that the symphonies that Mozart wrote as an eight or nine year old boy are derivative and unsophisticated, but that a little boy wrote symphonies that were good enough to be played in public at all.

Would Mozart "not stand out among today’s top child-performers?" Of course he would. He was the most famous child prodigy performer in Europe when he was a little boy.
What Mozart had, we now believe, was the same thing Tiger Woods had — the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills. Mozart played a lot of piano at a very young age, so he got his 10,000 hours of practice in early and then he built from there.

Right. Because look how many other Tiger Woods have come along in golf since Tiger first became famous around 1991 and showed everybody Earl Woods's cookbook recipe for how to raise a prodigy. All that younger talent that came along in Tiger's wake is why, when Tiger was out for eight months with knee surgery, the PGA Tour barely missed him because of all the charismatic younger superstars who have taken over the golf world, like ... you know, uh ... Anthony Kim! ... And ... that other guy, you know, the one with the shirt. And those middle aged guys from Ireland and Argentina. And, don't forget, there's red hot Kenny Perry. (Oh, wait, he's 48-years-old. Never mind.)

Oh, well, I guess there just hasn't been anybody else like Tiger to come along in the last 13 golf seasons. There must not have been anybody else out there besides Tiger with "the ability to focus for long periods of time and a father intent on improving his skills." You know, it must be the notorious shortage of Sideline Dads out there. If only more fathers were intent on improving their sons' athletic skills, there'd be Tiger Woodses everywhere.

Look, to say that Mozart wasn't special because he was just like Tiger Woods is the kind of skull-crushingly stupid thing that you can only get away with saying if you're telling everybody what they want to hear.

Tiger Woods is 33 years old. He's been celebrated on national television for his golf skills for over 30 years. Here's a video (starts 0:45 in) of a two and a half year old Tiger being interviewed by Bob Hope and Jimmy Stewart on a nationally syndicated TV talk show.

The truth is, unsurprisingly, that Tiger Woods is special. And so was Mozart.
The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours) rigorously practicing their craft.

How many people whom you've never ever heard of have also put in 10,000 hours? How many people you've never heard of wanted to put in 10,000 hours of rigorous practice but couldn't find anybody to subsidize them because they lacked potential?

And why did Tiger Woods choose golf to put 10,000+ hours of rigorous practice into golf? Why didn't he choose, say, symphony composing instead? Could it be that he liked golf more than composing? And could it be that the reason he like golf more than composing was because he had more natural talent for golf?

Putting in 10,000 hours at something definitely helps, but it really ought to be the right thing.

How many kids lives get wrecked by this kind of thinking by their parents? When you read about 23-year-old Anthony Kim, who got a prototypical Korean-American maniacal drilling upbringing at the driving range where I hit balls when I was a kid, it's a story that appears now to have a happy ending. But just two or three years ago, Kim looked like he was headed for Skid Row, he was drinking so heavily in rebellion against his domineering parents. His parents now tell other Korean parents who ask how they too can mold a pro golfer: Don't even try.

You only see the stories with a happy ending. The stories you don't see would be about all the Asian kids whose parents thought they could have a Tiger Woods too, and turned their kids' childhood into a hell.

The rest of Brooks's column about effective ways to practice is fine, but the opening is such a load of tripe ...

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

The most important point here is that the ability to focus and work hard is ALSO HERITABLE.

There is this persistent idea that the ability to think ahead, obey the law, and generally engage in moral behavior are separate from -- or even negatively correlated with -- baaaadd heritable traits like IQ, when all the evidence points in the opposite direction.

dearieme said...

Newton said that it was his power of concentration that made the difference. No doubt, but it probably also helped to be the cleverest man in history.

rightsaidfred said...

"Load of tripe" sums it up.

How did David Brooks get to be in his position? Almost everything he asserts here is counter to the facts.

josh said...

He forgot to mention how Aristotle wasn't special, he just had good teachers.

Anonymous said...

How does Brooks explain Barry O? By all accounts he's been pretty lazy for most of his life.

Tanstaafl said...

We, of course, live in a scientific age, and modern research pierces hocus-pocus.

But when it comes to research on humans political correctness trumps science. And PC is hocus-pocus ("these are not the droids you're looking for"). As with so much of what passes for authoritative, mainstream commentary on human biodiversity - what we're actually getting is propaganda endlessly repeated (while waving one or more hands) in an attempt to invert reality.

"It's those all-powerful" (waves hand) "waaaaaacists" (waves hand) "who are ruining everything" (loops fingers in the air and then suddenly thrusts two forward towards your eyes).

Pat Shuff said...

There is a certain race of men that either imagine it their duty, or make it their amusement, to hinder the reception of every work of learning or genius, who stand as sentinels in the avenues of fame, and value themselves upon giving Ignorance and Envy the first notice of a prey. (Samuel Johnson)

The true genius is a mind of large general powers, accidentally determined to some particular direction. (Samuel Johnson)

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.
Jonathan Swift

A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.
Wayne Gretzky

What you see is what you get!
Flip Wilson

Jerry said...

He got to be in his position by being a coward, i.e., by telling people what they wanted to hear, albeit with a twist of the risque. I suppose he's now successful enough that he could really let it rip, but 10,000 hours of practice has made cowardice too ingrained. Oh well, in a couple of decades he'll be utterly forgotten.

ironrailsironweights said...

I'm finishing up Outliers, and want to point out that Gladwell's anyone-can-succeed theme in the 10,000 Hour Rule section is quite at odds with much else in the book. In his chapters dealing with young Canadian hockey players, software entreprenuers and New York Jewish lawyers, he emphasizes that having been born at the right time is crucially important to future success. A hockey player born in December, in an area where the junior leagues have a January cutoff date, is probably not going to achieve much success even if he puts in 10,000 hours of practice.

Peter

Anonymous said...

You know the US is reaching Third World territory when one of its alleged pillars of public record, the Slim Times, begins comparing Tiger Woods, a golfer, with Mozart.

Anonymous said...

I used to be a professional violinist. My wife is a professional pianist. We both have degrees from 'name' schools.

Among our set, Gladwell's 10,000 hours have become something of a joke.

I started this one Chinese girl, age 9, and she went from how to hold the bow to winning competitions with Baroque concertos in two years. I started this other Chinese girl, age 8, and, after two years, she could just about figure out that the bow goes in the right hand and the violin in the left.

Anyone who doesn't believe in talent just hasn't met the likes of Yevgeny Kissin or something. He was a highly skilled pianist before he even learned to talk properly, and the New Yorker ran a huge article saying so back in like '96.

-bushrod

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is: Li'l Tiger was freakin' adorable. I bet li'l Wolfgang wasn't that cute. Still I like classical music more than sports.

Anonymous said...

i commented on the NYT page that if that was the case, how is it that the soviet union and china groomed child athletes from a young and age and had success in every field but sprinting? and how is it track mad sweden has to have african descended 100 meter men...and how is there are so few african descended men in fields that require high iq?

no surprise to isteve readers but my comment on the NYT was not approved.

Its frightening how these people are trying to avoid reality.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, I can't imagine why, the New York Times Editors didn't think this was worthy of posting. Gee...wonder why

So how is it that China and Russia who had specific programs to find the top althetes for the olympics and groom them from a young age , were able to get top performers in every field except one - sprinting - which to this day, is dominated by men of west african descent - the same men who are almost non existant in fields that require higher iqs , and those who are are usually affirmative action hires.

OOOPS! I just asked the question that NYT readers - eg 'stuff white people like' people don't want to face.

Hacienda said...

Steve on Korean drilling.

The Korea Times did a poll of Korean children. Asked about the children's attitudes toward Korean "hagwons"- the notorious and uniquely Korean practice of sending kids to school after going to school. Note that the hagwon, which is neutral to the idea of drilling, is very different from Kumon (which really does emphasize drilling) The big surprise- the large majority of kids across all ages stated they enjoyed going to hagwons. One might think this a case of brain washing, until you find out Korean kids generally enjoy the company of other kids no matter the activity. The sociology of Korean schools is a very interesting thing in and of itself. A Korean high school, if it were a movie, would be rated G through XXX. It has it all. If some of them are drilled by their parents, it's probably stress relief,not increased pressure for most.

Steve, I think you've violated your own principle of suspending judgement as HBD requires respect for other cultures and races. Or am I confusing this with that Star Trek non-interference with other life-forms idea?

blue anonymous said...

> How did David Brooks get to be in his position? Almost everything he asserts here is counter to the facts.

Looks like you answered your own question there.

jody said...

i've posted this a few times, but as a sports professional, i'm pretty cofident there is nothing special about woods. the international talent pool in competitive golf is pretty small. probably smaller even than volleyball. the best guy in a minor sport can look pretty dominant. only in the US, during the woods era, did anybody start thinking competitive golf was anything other than a totally minor sport. track, swimming, wrestling, boxing, and tennis are all bigger sports, with higher participation rates and better athletes. this is aside from soccer, basketball, and baseball.

when they are 8 years old, boys with good hand eye coordination overwhelmingly do not choose golf as their primary sport. they play other sports. so that when you are watching a PGA event, you are watching the scrubs, the non-athletes, the guys who weren't good enough to play real sports when they were 12, so they played 2 hours of golf every day instead. these guys are wimps, mental creampuffs. lots of them crumble under pressure.

every backup quarterback in the NFL is better at throwing a football than woods is at hitting a golf ball. the best athlete in your high school played quarterback. then, out of all the quarterbacks in the state, maybe 2 or 3 got offers to NCAA DI. most of those guys sat on the bench, because only 1 could be the stater. then, come the NFL draft, the starting quarterback at your major NCAA DI program, a multi-million dollar program, is generally laughed at and not even considered NFL material. so basically only the best quarterback in the history of your college, the guy with all the school records, is even CONSIDERED for the draft.

then the draft happens, and most of the guys who even get drafted end up sitting on the bench. the odds against being an NFL starter are astronomical. so you end up in a situation in which you have to be the best quarterback in your high school, the best quarterback at your college, and one of the best 2 or 3 quarterbacks in the draft. and even then, you may not get to throw the football as a pro. 32 starters, 32 backups, 32 backup backups, that's 96 athletes, about the same as the field in a major PGA event.

then you have the problem that almost nobody can even play competitive golf. a golf course is, by far, the largest, most expensive playing surface out of any sport in the world. most third world athletes do not have access to golf. already successful in track & field, swimming, and wrestling, athletes from communist nations quickly succeeded in boxing, tennis, and ice hockey when they were allowed to become professionals. the NHL MVP race is between 3 russians, for instance. they were so successful at boxing that the US sports media, almost overnight, stopped covering boxing matches in which eastern europeans knocked out black americans.

Nano-nymous said...

The ability of those who preach PC mantra to deny obvious is simply amazing.

Defending the very idea of blank slate, they are logically forced to come up with more and more absurd things. Have you heard it? - All dogs breeds are equally intelligent and equally aggressive - it's all about training. (Never mind that no dog trainer will ever agree with this and that it flies into the face of everyone's everyday experience).

And now we have them practically denying the very existence and relevance of a talent. Load of tripe indeed. One thing though: I cannot believe these people actually believe what they are saying.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Comparing a real genius with a dumb golfer is beneath you. You could teach a baboon to golf for Christ's sake!

Anonymous said...

Earl Woods' plan to raise a champion had to have began with interview dates at the putt-putt course. Woods mother would have had the desired athletic ability and attention span to breed a champion. As for Tiger himself, he's been around long enough that his look on the course reflects a sort of dated early-90s Michael Jordan type of thing. What I see are some tiny dreads under a golf cap and some forearm tatoos to democratize the sport.

As for a typical pro golf gallery, they would have to reflect kind of the lowest of the low for white america, expressing exaggerated wonder to each other at, yes, each chop at the turf, by, yes, golfers. It's fitting that CBS covers the Masters, with its sacharine lens-tinting and melodramatic presentation of "Amen corner".

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, there's a selection bias when one works backwards from those who succeed - and tries to figure out why. The seven habits of highly effective people are now being used by a million other people, who haven't turned out to be so successful. Einstein did spend an inordinate number of hours contemplating things like "If I looked in a mirror and was moving at the speed of light, what would I see?" But how many children ever asked themselves that question to begin with, and how many thought it a productive use of their time? Taleb spends a fair bit of time on this particular illogic in The Black Swan.Also, perseverance might be a heritable quality - a nice paradox. People who are smart or talented like to think that this is the result of their good old-fashioned effort, not luck of the draw. This clouds their ability to be able to fairly evaluate how each factor in their success should be weighted.

Anonymous said...

What David Brooks proposes isn't that original. There's been a fair effort by some Renaissance scholars to downplay the achievements of Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Raphael, et al.

Anonymous said...

Reading this somehow made me think of another athlete, also a Californian, who also had the good fortune of 'a father intent on improving his skills':

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Thing-Go-From-Bad-to-Worse-for-Todd-Marinovich.html

Hey, he gets out of jail in a couple of days - does that qualify for a 'happy ending'?

albertosaurus said...

As it happens I got my NetFlix DVDs in the mail yesterday. One of them is a performance of Mozart's "Mithradate Re de Ponto". I rented another version on another DVD label a few weeks ago. I want to compare them.

Mozart wrote this opera when he was 14.

When I read in Gladwell's book that Mozart never really wrote anything of much merit before he was in his mid-twenties, I threw the book down and have never picked it up again.

OK, I'm a bad housekeeper (books everywhere) but at least I'm not an idiot like Gladwell.

Truth said...

"i've posted this a few times, but as a sports professional, i'm pretty cofident there is nothing special about woods."

Yeah, they've paid him HALF A BILLION dollars for what he does, but he's really nothing special.

Mr. Anon said...

Steve always comes across as laid-back and even temperered. Except when the topic is David Brooks or Malcolm Gladwell. Then one can almost imagine hearing the tremor in Steve's voice, and see the vein throbbing on his forehead. Not that what he's saying about thier latest ludicrous writings is wrong - quite the contrary (I could be Mozart if I just practiced steady for a few years - yeah, right).

David Brooks, Malcolm Gladwell, and many other literatii are great believers in the blank-slate theory. This is understandable, in that their own minds are and remain blank slates.

Lucius Vorenus said...

bushrod: Anyone who doesn't believe in talent just hasn't met the likes of Yevgeny Kissin or something. He was a highly skilled pianist before he even learned to talk properly, and the New Yorker ran a huge article saying so back in like '96.

And yet Kissin is an awkward, clumsy, ham-handed hack by comparison with a real genius, like Glenn Gould.

In the world of instrumental performance, there's Glenn Gould, and then there's everyone else.

And everyone else is so far back in the dust that they don't even count.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: no surprise to isteve readers but my comment on the NYT was not approved.Yeah, I can't break through the censors, either.

On the occasional USA site, I'll get the thing posted, but then they'll come along afterwards and delete it.

But e.g. I have NEVER had a post approved at a UK newspaper site - trying to post to them is just a complete waste of time.

Dutch Boy said...

Years ago Deutsche Grammophon recorded the complete works of Mozart. One of the conductors explained to the musicians at the outset that because of the scope of the work, even "weak" pieces by Mozart would be included. At the end of the project, some of the musicians (out of curiousity) approached the conductor and inquired of him just which of the works of Mozart he considered to be the weak ones. They had not been able to detect any themselves.

james said...

I'd be interested to know if Gladwell could explain away the case of Mendelssohn, who was at least as great a youthful prodigy as Mozart. (Goethe, who met both Mendelssohn and Mozart, thought that Mendelssohn was actually the greater prodigy of the two.)

John Seiler said...

When I was an editorial writer with The Orange County Register back in 2003, Charles Murray came by to talk about his new "Human Accmplishment," which I reviewed. We got to discussing Mozart and Beethoven, tied atop Murray's list with scores of 100.

Murray was amazed at the high degree of "abstraction" displayed in their compositions. It's not just that they wrote great melodies and harmonies, but they could construct, just in their heads, a symphony that could last and hour, or an opera lasting three hours, and have it end perfectly, with everything in between being perfect.

I don't know that much about golf. But comparing it to the absolute heights of musical composition is absurd. And typical David Brooks.

Anonymous said...

This brings up a memory for me, as my goal was to be a professional stage musician.

Parents wouldn't let me play a brass instrument for some reason and had me learn the violin. I adjusted to that reasonably well, and worked fairly hard at it. The summer of my first year of high school I went to a music camp. Not a tremendously prestigious one like Meadowmount or Aspen, but good enough so that there were some pretty strong players. I started to realize that it was going to be difficult or impossible for me to be on a stage playing Paganini when I was still working on Bach partitas.

But I did give it a real shot and I got a lot better. The younger kids, however, improved much more quickly. I didn't want to admit that I didn't have the talent, but I could see that it was not working out.

Not much of a sob story, but here is the point. My parents really pushed me on this. They really wanted a musician for a son, and I really wanted to oblige them, both to please them, and because of my own love for classical music despite my obvious lack of talent. But my high school and even early college years (when I had already reluctantly given up on classical music) were almost a literal hell (although not entirely as a result). With some kids practicing 4-6 hours a day really is not enough, no amount of effort is going to do it. Working that hard and still watching the younger kids shoot past you can be pretty emotionally wrenching. It seems far better to me to let the kid realize it. Not everyone can be Perlman, not every one can be Lebron James, and not everyone can be Pavarotti.

BTW, yes I love my parents and no I don't really blame them for this. When and if I have kids I am sure that despite my best intentions I will make a few mistakes that they will resent me for. But that is life.

Anonymous said...

One of the most important skills you can teach a computer is to discard unproductive lines of effort SOONER rather than LATER.

Yet our entire media is focused on keeping us going on useless stuff rather than rationally evaluating whether we have the talent to make it worthwhile.


http://everything2.com/title/Do%2520chessmasters%2520think%2520more%2520moves%2520ahead%253F

A famous quote from a chessmaster is "I only think one move ahead. The right one." While this is more a product of his own (biased) perception of how he thinks, it is partially right. Chessmasters don't gain most of their advantage from thinking further ahead. They gain their advantage from only pursuing good lines, and discarding bad moves. The better a player is, the less time she spends thinking about bad moves.

james said...

Anonymous wrote:

"[O]ur entire media is focused on keeping us going on useless stuff rather than rationally evaluating whether we have the talent to make it worthwhile."Not to mention our entire education system, which makes college attendance almost compulsory for the middle-class young. When in at least 50% of cases middle-class kids haven't got the particular chops required for high-grade college study, and would be much better off leaving school at 15, the way their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did.

(Of course their grandfathers and great-grandfathers didn't have to cope with governments so maniacal as to have outsourced the country's entire industrial base to Mexico and China.)

MQ said...

I think the bottom line is that you can't focus and work hard and effectively at something for 10,000 hours unless you're pretty damn naturally gifted at it already. I base this on my own abortive childhood piano lessons.

John Seiler said...

What about Babe Ruth? He was much more more important to baseball than Tiger is to golf.

Early in his career, The Babe was one of the best pitchers in the league, maybe the best for a year or two. So he didn't hit much, meaning he didn't get all that crucial, hyper-experience at his craft that Gladwell/Brooks say is essential.

It wasn't until age 23 that Ruth got more than 150 at bats in one season. By contrast, Al Kaline, no mean player and in the Hall of Fame, had more than 500 AB beginning at age 19, and almost every year after until he turned 37. Kaline also didn't eat as many hot dogs as Ruth.

So Kaline should have had more home runs, hits, RBIs, etc. than The Sultan of Swat, but he didn't.

Why? Because The Babe had a better innate ability.

By the way, as great as Ruth was, he actually was better than the "official" numbers indicate, as shown in the recent book by Bill Jenkinson, "The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs: Recrowning Baseball's Greatest Slugger." And he didn't need steroids to do it.

John Seiler said...

Sorry to go on, but...

Two more refutations of the Gladwell/Brooks thesis are baseball pitchers and football runners. Both have a physical limitation on how much they can practice and play. A pitcher who throws 100 pitches a day will have a short career. A runner who runs 60 times a game will soon be in a hospital.

So, for both positions, it essentially comes down to innate ability.

One practice they can do a great deal is watching films of the opposition. But, really, greats like Sandy Koufax and Jim Brown just had overwhelming talent.

Truth said...

"Comparing a real genius with a dumb golfer is beneath you. You could teach a baboon to golf for Christ's sake!"

You could teach one to do brain surgery also, just not successfully.

jody said...

truth - you realize most of woods' money comes from endorsements, not winnings, right? middle aged white american men, the guys who tune in to PGA golf, are positively riveted by eldrick, and hang on to his every word, his every move. we're at the point where they don't even care who actually won a tournament or who beat him, all they care about it woods. so it makes sense that the corporations in the most wealthy nation in the world would outbid each other for such a spokesman.

michelle wie, for instance, was paid the positively ludicrous sum of 19 MILLION dollars in endorsement money in A SINGLE YEAR when it looked like she MIGHT become a good golfer. this was about 9 million dollars more than tom brady was paid in salary that year.

never confuse the spectator aspect of a sport with the actual participation rate and level of play in a sport. golf is so irrelevant on the international scene that it is not even played in the olympic games. it's still the pet sport of wealthy white men. few play it competitively - they can't. they don't have access.

tennis, for example, is a bigger sport than competitive golf, with majors played in 4 nations, versus only 2 for golf. the best couple tennis players are all better at tennis than woods is at golf. better hand eye coordination, better athletes, and in their physical prime - woods still loses to fat middle aged men. but the tennis players are not american, so they don't get major endorsment contracts in the US.

boxers have faced this problem for a while now. the upcoming klitschko-haye match is the biggest boxing match in about 6 years, but you would never know it if you lived in the US, because the american sports media put an embargo on covering europeans knocking out black americans. almost nobody saw carl froch knock out jermain taylor, for example, and there will little if any coverage or replays of it on ESPN.

klitschko and haye will box in a soccer stadium with an attendance of about 65000 and a television audience of about 50 million. it's an event about 5 times as big as the pacquiao-hatton match, and will get at least 5 times LESS coverage in the US.

Truth said...

"truth - you realize most of woods' money comes from endorsements, not winnings, right?"

This, my friend, is what's known as "a distinction without a difference." Tiger Woods is the best in the world at what he does. That is why they give him millions of dollars; and have been for many years. If golf is so easy, maybe you should just give up worshiping Don Wassall for a minute, pick up some golf clubs and make yourself a few billion. Have at it son.

"golf is so irrelevant on the international scene that it is not even played in the olympic games."

Neither are football, rugby or MMA, does that make them irrelevant. Curling, the pentathalon and race walking on the other hand are competed dutifully every 4 years.

"the best couple tennis players are all better at tennis than woods is at golf."

I'd love to see the mathematical equasion that you used to figure this one out.

"but you would never know it if you lived in the US, because the american sports media put an embargo on covering europeans knocking out black americans. almost nobody saw carl froch knock out jermain taylor..."

Well let me give you a little hint on the secret as to why this happened, sport;

You are a pro-white, castefootball.us, whites are better at sports type of guy right? Well did you did into your wallet last night and up the $49.95 to watch Ricky Hatton get flattened by an Asian? Did you pony up for Calzaghe/ Jones? For Pavlik - Hopkins? Do you plan on putting your money where your mouth is for Haye - Klitchko? Well OK then, because Philipinos buy Pacauaio fights, Mexicans by De La Hoya fights, and blacks bought Mike Tyson fights.

Now if you, Mr. White power, don't care enough to spend your hard earned $7.83 an hour, why the fuck should anyone at ESPN?

And if Klitchko and that overrated bum he's fighting in June wanted the American audience, maybe; just maybe they should be FIGHTING IN AMERICA!!!!!!

Martin Regnen said...

I like the Woods-Mozart comparison. Excellence in music is not fundamentally different from excellence in sports, no matter how much sports-hating nerds love to pretend otherwise.

But, yeah, the blank-slate, your-kid-can-be-a-genius silliness... no one who knows any pair of siblings whose parents hope they turn out to be great violinists or footballers or whatever would buy that.

josh said...

What's everyone's problem with Tiger Woods? He's incredible. This is bizarre.

Chapin Disciple said...

Coincidentally, I just finished reading Gladwell's book last night. I think that your readers and perhaps you misunderstand Gladwell. To be precise, Gladwell argues that it's not just innate talent that you need to succeed--you also need to work at it and you need good mentors and you need luck (as in being in the right place at the right time). Or to put it another way, you don't become wildly successful just by being yourself, you have to work at it and be lucky.

Accordingly, there's almost no way that I, a Chinese-American born in the 70's would have any chance at becoming the world's greatest pound-for-pound boxer or an NBA guard. However, given my language skills and quantitative skills, I would have stood a much better chance at (though no guarantee of) becoming an elite historian (e.g. someone with a tenure-track job and a few published books) or an elite scientist (e.g., tenured professor with a few substantial NIH grants).