Monday, February 26, 2007

Instant Analysis: a Tale of Sports and Politics

It has been an interesting year for Nashville sports. The Titans began the year 0-5, then got on a roll and could have finished with a winning record and made the playoffs if they had won in their final week. The Predators started 0-3, but are now among the NHL's elite and are considered among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup in spite of a recent slide. Vanderbilt's men's basketball team lost to Furman and Appalachian State in December, but they have since knocked off #1 Florida and may be the second best team in the SEC.

With each of these teams, the early instant analysis and fan panic about the prospects for their seasons and the future of their coaches turned out to be wrong. Instant analysis is always an iffy proposition, and those who engage in it are frequently wrong. Journalists are often glad that few people bother to check back issues, and bloggers are thankful that most people don't dig deep into the archives.

Shifting to politics, the Presidential season started earlier this year than ever, and the conventional wisdom suggests that anyone who is not already in the race and a front runner cannot win. That may be correct. The ever increasing front loading of the primaries clearly gives an advantage to candidates with money and organization, and it will be difficult to come by those things late in the game. Even so, it was not long ago that candidates feared getting in too soon, and they would be coy about whether they intended to run or not in order to enjoy publicity without scrutiny. The wisdom then was that one did not necessarily want to peak too early. To use another sports analogy, the leader of the first half mile of the Kentucky Derby never wins and rarely finishes near the front of the pack. Early leaders in the race for presidential nominations also frequently fade.

Most likely, the winners of the Republican and Democratic nominations will come from among the frontrunners out there today. However, it is not difficult to envision a scenario in which someone late catches lightening in a bottle and runs a sprint to a winning finish. One almost wishes that will happen. It might encourage would be candidates to take a break before 2012.

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