Theatre of the absurd (Arizona State edition)

Check out Justin Wolfers’s most recent essay “How Arizona State Reinvented Free-Throw Distraction.” Here is an excerpt (edited by us for clarity):

A shark attack. The return of Elvis. Twerking farm animals. A shirtless guitarist. Kissing unicorns. An old lady yelling at you to get off her lawn … Of course, student sections that try to throw opponents off their game have been around for decades. But Arizona State’s Curtain of Distraction has taken those attempts to a new level. Just as a visiting player is about to shoot a free throw, two students pull apart two big black curtains to reveal a new five-second act in a continuing theater of the absurd.

The most striking aspect of the routine, though, isn’t any of the bizarre characters. It’s the result. A statistical analysis by The Upshot — with an assist from Nick Wan, who runs the True Brain blog, and from Jan Zilinsky — suggests that the Curtain really works. It appears to give Arizona State an additional one- to two-point advantage per home game, beyond the normal homecourt advantage.

We love a good laugh as much as the next guy, but are such unsportsmanlike tactics like these going too far?

This entry was posted in Culture, Probability, Questions Rarely Asked, Sports and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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