I found myself in a Twitter war. Probably more Falklands War than World War II. I deleted the instigating tweet after I received a handful of replies that seemed to miss the spirit of what I was attempting to convey. I guess that means I lost the battle; put back into my place by the sentries patrolling the internet. I've got a long way to go before I reach Ziller-ian levels.
I recently read my way through Nate Silver's book, The Signal and The Noise. In it the undisputed champion of 2012 details some of the attributes innate to pundits, forecasters, anyone who makes a living off of predictions. he splits this group of people into two groups. One group makes predictions based on broad overarching beliefs of how the world works. This group is more likely to be wrong. The other, more accurate group, makes predictions based on probability, believing in subtleties that can have a profound effect on their forecasts. I feel it is safe to say that the majority of journalists/reporters/pundits involved in the sporting world fall into the former camp. Turn on your TV and you find your ear drums assaulted by this group. It pays (unfortunately) to be loud and brash and most importantly, simple. Best. Worst. Clutch. Choke. Done Deal.
Everyone reading this has also read many reports concerning the possible sale and relocation of the Sacramento Kings. You read the words "done deal" in those reports. It's a phrase often echoed by national media; as well as local media in Washington and California. Those claims fail to hold up under even the most basic level of scrutiny. We know any potential sale must clear BOG approval. Any potential arena must clear legal hurdles; no matter how insignificant those hurdles may be, they must be recognized as existing.
There is a 70% chance of rain tomorrow. I tell you it is definitely going to rain tomorrow. It rains. Was my forecast correct? It did rain, but did I give an accurate representation of the possible outcomes? No, as I did not allow for the possibility of a clear sunny day, which had a 30% chance of occurring.
If a reporter, or radio host, says the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen is a done deal, are the right? We know the answer to that right now. The answer is no; that is not an accurate statement. I understand how local sports coverage works. Every team's announcing crew exists somewhere on the homer spectrum. But, should we accept that status quo? Is it enough for a reporters claim of "done deal" to be retroactively affirmed if Kings to Seattle comes to fruition, even if it is not an accurate portrayal of the current state of affairs.
An argument could be made that I am debating semantics, but shouldn't we be demanding accurate predictions from the media. Not "right" predictions, but predictions that allow for uncertainty as nothing in this world, sports or otherwise, is certain. I know "maybes", and "ifs", and "possiblys" don't incite page views, but they do a much better job of accurately forecasting the world around us, and, specifically, the upcoming events that will decide whether or not the Kings stay in Sacramento.
I tweeted that I was afraid sports media types had forgotten the meaning of the word "done"; because nothing is done until it is done. Within a minute I was deluged with tweets calling me a "numnuts" and that the sale to Seattle was a done deal, and the Arena was a done deal. If in three years DeMarcus Cousins is jogging from three point line to three point line at a brand new SODO based arena in Seattle it won't make those people right. As it stands now there is no done deal, and until there is I will dream of a world where the uncertainties inherit to this situation are accurately reflected by the sports media world.