The Science Of Free Throw Distractions

from the nothing-to-it... dept

John sent in this somewhat bizarre story about how someone figured that, scientifically, the random process by which fans try to distract opposing basketball team players by waving balloons and “thunder stix” while they try to shoot free throws, becomes kind of a white noise that cancels itself out for a professional basketball player. However, if the crowd were convinced to move their distraction tools in unison, it could mentally throw off the perception of the shooter, who might think that he is the one that is moving and compensate with his hands when he shot the free throw. The writer successfully convinced Dallas Mavericks’ owner (and dot com billionaire) Mark Cuban to test the theory. The trick was getting Mavericks’ employees to convince the crowd to move in unison (possibly against league rules). The first two nights, it apparently worked, and resulted in relatively poor free throw shooting from opposing teams. However, the third night found the free throws falling in at the same rate as league average — leading Cuban to believe the first two nights were a fluke. Still, when you get to the point that you’re starting to examine the scientific reasoning behind fan distraction in a single aspect of a basketball game, you might begin to wonder if there weren’t something better than could be done with your time.

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