This Is Your Brain on Sports: The Science of Underdogs, the Value of Rivalry, and What We Can Learn from the T-Shirt Cannon by L. Jon Wertheim and Sam Sommers
I like sports but I think I love the human side of sports more. I read Deadspin, when I had cable I watched Outside The Lines and 30 for 30 and I listen weekly to Only A Game on NPR. Sometimes it feels like professional sports are its own universe where outlandish behavior is acceptable and normal human beings go from boring to insane. This Is Your Brain On Sports proves using studies and journal articles that our outlandish behavior in sports is happening but it’s also very much happening outside of sports.
One of my favorite pieces was about how the public views quarterbacks as universally good looking. The authors dug into this and ran their own study. They found that their subjects, who were not football fans when shown many players’ faces found quarterbacks to be less attractive on average than running backs and defensive linemen. I actually experienced this first hand on our flight to Paris, where Sara and I sat next to a Patriot’s linebacker who Sara would later tell me was “much better looking then either Manning brother.”
What was most interesting about the study was that subjects found quarterbacks to have more leadership qualities purely based on photos. It aligned with a similar study that was done with faces of employees and CEOs and had similar results with CEOs having more presumed “leadership” qualities. These studies got me thinking about getting asked for directions. Discussing with my brother and father, we’ve found we get asked for directions far more than people we know. On my current trip to Paris and Brussels, I’ve been asked for directions in 3 different languages in two different languages, with many other people standing close enough who could be up to the task. So why do they ask me? Maybe I have a face that says I’m approachable? Good with directions? Willing to help? Who knows! But, if you like reading about sports and how it reflects our daily lives check out this book.