So Malcolm Gladwell writes about basketball – and other things – in this week’s New Yorker. With lots of exclamation points! His thesis, reasonable enough: too many Davids try to beat Goliath at his own game, when their best chance of success hinges out outhinking and outworking their opponents. His primary example is, well, 7th grade girls basketball:
The second deadline requires a team to advance the ball across mid-court, into its opponent’s end, within ten seconds, and if Redwood City’s opponents met the first deadline the girls would turn their attention to the second. They would descend on the girl who caught the inbounds pass and “trap” her. Anjali was the designated trapper. She’d sprint over and double-team the dribbler, stretching her long arms high and wide. Maybe she’d steal the ball. Maybe the other player would throw it away in a panic—or get bottled up and stalled, so that the ref would end up blowing the whistle.
I don’t have a problem with Gladwell’s point (though it seems pretty self-evident to me). But I’m not sure proving that 12-year old girls – not to mention 12-year old boys – can’t handle a full-court press is the most effective way to prove any point.