Saturday, May 10, 2008

So I'm reading Derrida...

And I'm thinking about deconstruction. I'm thinking about finding fundamental flaws in methodology and terminology in various fields, about what fallacies may be at the center.

And I'm following baseball for the first time in a long while. And, still, thinking about deconstruction.

And I'm thinking about how stat-focused football analysis like you can find at Football Outsiders has sort of taken its cue from the stat-focused baseball analysis that preceded it. About how some of the same concepts are borrowed. And I'm thinking about what sort of fundamental flaws might be at work when some of those borrowed concepts are transferred to a different sport, how the analysis might have worked differently and better if the analysis started free without borrowing from another sport. Say, for example, a concept like "replacement level" and value above replacement level. As far as I can tell, it is a concept initially used effectively for baseball that FO applies to football. But I'm wondering if that works very well, whether the reliance on teammates for performance, the varieties of football players, the diversity of plays, the different offensive schemes, the different skill sets different players might have, and all that, make the concept of "replacement level" mean something very different, and less relevant, in football than baseball.

And I'm thinking if I actually knew more about sabermetrics, I might take up Derrida's cue and deconstruct statistical football analysis, and see how it may rely (inadequately and inaccurately) on concepts from statistical baseball analysis that don't translate to another sport well. That, well, "transform" when applied to another sport. But that I don't know enough about baseball statistical analysis to take this on.

And so I'm sitting with a feeling, a little tiny seed of an idea, wondering whether I should even post these unverified, ill-informed thoughts. Whether I should perhaps do a little deeper study before even suggesting I'm considering a big deconstruction project. Or whether some combination of grading research papers and reading Derrida has twisted my brain in ways that don't quite make sense. But then I'm posting it anyway but starting my sentences with a lot of conjunctions to make it clear I'm throwing ideas around rather than presenting a well-thought thesis.


  1. Anonymous2:40 AM

    Derrida, oh how I hate Derrida.

    His theories and statements made no sense to any fan of the rational, but the intellectual elite made him out to be some sort of godsend, showing us that things aren't what they really are, when in reality yes, things ARE what they are.

    It's thanks to people like Derrida that intentionalism (ie, What I say is what I mean as opposed to "Another reading between totally arbitrary lines to find sexism or racism in my statement") is not allowed a place in the discussion.

    Derrida is like the abstract art of philosophers. People like him because they're told to like him, but when you think about it, he/it adds nothing to society apart from a big blotch of ink.

    Good lord did I hate the Derrida units in college.

  2. Anonymous8:55 PM

    To quote Foucault, "He [Derrida] writes so obscurely you can't tell what he's saying, that's the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, "You didn't understand me; you're an idiot." That's the terrorism part."

    If there is an existence after death, let that existence only be a great arena in which Jacques Derrida is skewered, skinned, voraciously tortured, and then ultimately burned, Auto de fe, with me as Grand Inquisitor, for all eternity.

  3. I had no idea about this Football Outsiders site, I think I will check it out and read it, I think it would be very interesting since it is about football too!

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