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?