I’ve never really understood why measuring performance through the best available metrics, and then attempting to implement what’s been learned as a means of improvement would be such a despised practice in sports. To me, the use of analytics represents a reasonable pursuit of something that resembles the truth.
I’m not an athlete or a coach or a member of a front-office, but in my own chosen field, both as a writer and a reader, I value this pursuit. I want to investigate phenomena that hasn’t already been explained, I desire the acquisition of new knowledge and I covet the correction of what I previously believed to be true. I’m of the firm belief that curiosity remains one of the better human traits, especially when it’s coupled with a drive to explore.
Last week, Grantland published a fascinating article written by Zach Lowe that looked into the Toronto Raptors and their use of SportVu, a camera-tracking system that records player movement and allows teams to use the data that it gathers as a means of understanding how to best attack an opposing team’s defense, and alternately how to best defend against an opposing team’s offense. The story is an excellent example of form matching function in that it informs readers of something new that’s being used in basketball to inform talent evaluators of fresh insights.
In response to Lowe’s work, Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star filed a follow-up story in which he spoke with Raptors head coach Dwayne Casey about the Grantland article. Kelly essentially used Lowe’s investigation into Toronto’s use of analytics as a launching pad to rage against his own convoluted idea of the use of advanced metrics, further his own narrative on a divide between the coaches and front office, and indirectly insult Lowe’s reporting.