Thursday, February 05, 2015

What's Next?

Several years ago I read "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis.  At about the same time I began reading, a blog about my favorite sports team.  I soaked up the information being offered, a deeper more meaningful way to understand the game that I loved.  These works pointed to "Sabermetrics" a math based system of understanding the great game.  Imagine a use in the world for math beyond balancing a check book.  And seriously, who does that?  (Checkbooks were these little pads of paper used to exchange money...I know, who does that anymore?)

One of the concepts I learned from Sabermetrics was that just because the results didn't turn out the way one might expect or hope it doesn't mean that the decisive action was wrong.  The idea is known as results based analysis.  If the decision based on the facts known at the time was sound one should understand that randomness creating an unexpected outcome does not mean the decision was the wrong one.  Sometimes, as unlikely as it is, the ball gets intercepted.

I am still recovering from a shocking conclusion to what was a super Superbowl XLIX.  If I didn't have a rooting interest in one of the teams I might have called it the "best" or most memorable since Super Bowl XXV when a field goal went wide right giving the NY Giants a victory and began what turned out to be a four year losing streak for a great Buffalo Bills team.

My immediate reaction was the same as so many others, "WHY DIDN'T THEY RUN THE BALL?"  The answer seems so obvious after the ball is intercepted by the other team.  Why take that chance?  Why throw it?  Why did this have to happen to "US"!  The coach's decision was immediately questioned by millions of people, the broadcasters, team members, former professional players and many others like me who are fans of the game.

A couple days later, coach Carroll spoke with the Brock and Salk on Seattle's 710 AM and demonstrated remarkable leadership in the midst of this unprecedented time for a football team.  If the link works you can find his discussion here:

The coach shows great empathy for fans, acknowledging their feeling of grief while taken responsibility for a controversial decision.  With assurance he explains his reasoning for the play call and one can begin to understand that perhaps the coach was making the right decision, only the result turned out to be unexpectedly bad.  In his game play decision he reasoned it was right to pass the ball when the defense was expecting a run.  Makes sense from a game theory point of view.  Take an action that is likely to get the best result based on what you believe the actions of your opponent will be.  Just because it doesn't work, doesn't mean it was the wrong decision.

A well thought out, practiced, reasoned decision may not gain the hoped for result but it may be the right action to take.  In my ministry I am challenged to make decisions that will help more people understand they are loved children of God.  We plan, we practice and we act.  Sometimes we make a significant difference for others, sometimes the ball is intercepted.  Whatever the result we must continue to act.

"What's Next" is a quote used by coach Carroll and his quarterback Russell Wilson.  They spoke it last year after winning a Super Bowl.  They speak it now looking to move beyond their grief and forward to what awaits them in the next season.  So people, what's next?

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