Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

The wind chill is making it feel like a rather nippy minus 15 degrees celsius here in New York. From what I understand, it's not exactly balmy in London either.

As a result, I'm enjoying a very civilised New Year's Eve accompanied solely by a very pregnant wife, and a fridge pregnant with beer.

Luckily so far only the fridge has delivered the goods, and I've instructed the wife that I'd like it to stay that way.

This is not purely for selfish reasons of course, infact I've the unborn child's best interests at heart especially if he/she has an aptitude for sport.

I've long been struck by the fact that there is considerable evidence that more professional sportsmen are born in January, compared to any other month (particularly December).

In his new book 'Outliers', the British-born author Malcolm Gladwell explores the phenomenon. He uses Canadian ice hockey as an example, but it's applicable to any sport that segments junior participants based on the calendar year:

"It's a beautiful example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Canada, the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey programs is Jan 1st. Canada also takes hockey really seriously, so coaches start streaming the best hockey players into elite programs, where they practice more and play more games and get better coaching, as early as 8 or 9.

But who tends to be the "best" player at age 8 or 9? The oldest, of course....the kids born nearest the cut-off date, who can be as much as almost a year older than kids born at the other end of the cut-off date. When you are 8 years old, 10 or 11 extra months of maturity means a lot.

So those kids get special attention. That's why there are more players in the NHL born in January and February and March than any other months. You see the same pattern, to an even more extreme degree, in soccer in Europe and baseball here in the U.S. It's one of those bizarre, little-remarked-upon facts of professional sports. They're biased against kids with the wrong birthday."

This phenomenon is also particularly prevalent in British horse racing, where all horses are given a Jan 1st birthday, regardless of when during the year they are born (not that my wife is expecting to deliver a foal I might add).

Thus it is highly desirable for a horse to actually be born as close to Jan 1st as possible, so that when it races for example as a 'three year old', it obviously helps its chances if it's actually three.

This explains why stud farms are particularly noisy with equine passion during February and March, given the eleven month gestation period.

When midnight strikes tonight however, I will have my own sporting achievements to consider.

As has become an annual tradition for me, I intend to head outside into the frigid air and sprint the following distances: 100metres, 200metres, and 400metres.

Thus for a very limited period, I will thus confidently be able to claim to have run the 'fastest time in the world this year'.

No small achievement over multiple distances I'm sure you'd agree. In 2008 for example, even the peerless Usain Bolt never held the record for all three.

For Charlton Athletic meanwhile, 2008 will certainly be a year to forget from the standpoint of those who care about the club. We only won ten Championship matches after all.

With the global economy similarly afflicted, there's no better time to wish all fellow Addicks (and other assorted readers) a very happy, victorious and prosperous new year.


At 3:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a happy new year to you too NYA. Its 3.30 am and not half as cold as it was 7 hours ago!

Pembury Addick

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Dave Peeps said...

Happy New Year NYA - best wishes for the new addition. A great way to start 2009. I'll look forward to the announcement of a safe and healthy arrival.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

HNY mate, I too await your announcement of the next Addick (poor sod). By the way I went in the garden after I got home last night and scored the first goal of the year.


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