Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chad Ford's Chance of Failing Statistics: 134%

While I like to think of myself as a pretty much forgive and forget kind of guy, I do have some issues that bring out the worst in me. Whether it is elderly meteorologists who think they are real scientists, misogynistic beer commercials, or sports columnists with a "funny"/racist take on soccer, I think my anger is pretty well justified.

I share an anger that I haven't had much cause to bother with here on this sportsblog, which is the horrible misuse of basic concepts of words. "Literally" comes springing to mind, and the kind of abuse heaped upon that word may cause fellow blogger Andrew Wice to swoop in, swinging an OED, and singing the angry parts of the Carmina Burana.

With that in mind, I have to say, editors, and Chad Ford in particular, Good Fucking God, you raised my fucking hackles with this ridiculous lede:

"The city was abuzz Wednesday morning, fresh off the news that the Bulls had done the impossible -- winning the draft lottery despite having just a 1.7 percent chance."

A fourteen year old could tell you what is so wrong about that sentence. As a writer, as a man who operates in the lingua franca of the fucking language, certainly, Chad, some bell rang in the distant corners of your language center, or your logic center, or at least there were echoes in the cerebellum, yeah?

You simply can not call something "impossible" in the exact same sentence that you put forth the fucking odds. That is unacceptable. Clearly, the Impossible had an almost 2% chance of being possible. What the fuck is that, Chad? What new math are you slinging, sir?

Your usage of the word "impossible" to describe an almost 2% (roughly, 1 in 50, let's say) chance now relegates the following things into the realm of impossibility: flipping a coin "Heads" six times in a row; any random finalist of the Miss America pagaent winning; some horse named "Stinky Pete" winning a race, etc, etc.

It's one thing to call something that has clearly happened "impossible"--I understand poetic license and all that. But to include the odds in the same exact same sentence? That's just fucking stupid.

Most galling? All it took was a modifier, like "seemingly" or "almost", or "for intents and purposes" to make the word "impossible" an OK word to use. Or, someone, anyone could have said, "how about 'improbable', seeing as something has a 1.7% chance, it isn't impossible." Winning the lottery isn't impossible, after all--it is highly, highly, highly unlikely (another word that could have been used) but it isn't impossible. And the chances of winning the PowerBall is a (by a factor of hundreds if not thousands) less probable than winning a 1:50 Game. Stoopid, Chad Ford, STOOPID. God Hates Stoopid like this.

that said, the piece does do a nice job of profiling some of my favorite guard/forwards going into the draft, and I found it a good read, once I washed the foul ridiculousness of the first graf out of my brain.


Jess said...

You can't necessarily place all the blame on Ford's shoulders here. Obviously, I don't know how it works at, but I would hope that at least a couple of other pairs of eyes read the article before someone hit the "publish" button.

It's amazing how, say, a story about a student goverment meeting that featured a little shouting can show up in the paper the next morning sounding as if the participants nearly came to blows. And then I had to spend the day fielding calls from irate student government dorks.

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yeah, there are usually plenty of people to blame in a situation like this. Sometimes I think shoddy editing is worse than shoddy writing. This was a big ol' FAIL on several levels. You're a better man than I am for even bothering to read the rest of the piece after that crap lede. Though, that's mostly because I'm a woman.

Muumuuman said...

Before I got to the draft lottery part, I thought that the Bulls had traveled faster than the speed of light around the earth causing the earth to spin backwards, and we know that when the earth spins backwards that time also runs backwards, and the bulls had suddenly returned to the glory days of Jordan.