The Hidden Pitfalls of Survivorship Bias in Sports

Title: The Hidden Pitfalls of Survivorship Bias in Sports

In the world of sports, we often look up to top athletes and try to replicate their success by following their strategies, routines, and habits.

However, this approach can be misleading due to the  cognitive bias known as survivorship bias.

Let's explore the concept of survivorship bias and why blindly copying the best performers may not always be the best strategy.

What is Survivorship Bias? Survivorship bias is a cognitive error that occurs when we focus on the successful outcomes while ignoring the failures. This bias leads us to draw incorrect conclusions from a limited set of data, as we only consider the stories of those who have succeeded, overlooking the experiences of those who didn't.

The Dangers of Survivorship Bias in Sports:

  1. Incomplete picture of success: By only examining the habits and strategies of successful athletes, we miss out on a wealth of information from those who didn't make it to the top. Understanding the full spectrum of experiences can help us identify patterns and factors that contribute to success or failure.

  2. Unique circumstances: Top athletes often succeed due to a combination of factors, such as talent, hard work, access to resources, and timing. Attempting to replicate their journey may not yield the same results if our circumstances differ from theirs.

  3. Overemphasis on outliers: Survivorship bias can lead us to focus on extreme success stories, which are often outliers. Basing our strategies on these exceptional cases can lead to unrealistic expectations and disappointment when we don't achieve the same level of success.

  4. Neglecting individual differences: Each athlete is unique in terms of skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Adopting a one-size-fits-all approach based on the habits of top performers may not be effective for everyone. Instead, it's essential to tailor strategies to suit our individual needs and goals.

To counter survivorship bias, it's crucial to learn from both successes and failures. It's also important to just recognise when you might be looking at the world through this bias!

Analysing the experiences of those who didn't make it to the top can provide valuable insights into potential pitfalls, mistakes, and challenges. This information can help us make informed decisions, refine our strategies, and ultimately, increase our chances of success. There is much wisdom in failure! Why wait for you own to learn from it! 

ather than blindly copying what the best are doing, we should strive to learn from a broad range of experiences, including the 99% who fail.

By doing so, we can develop a more comprehensive understanding of what it takes to succeed and tailor our approach to best suit our unique circumstances and abilities. And, at the end of the day, we need to be OK with not making it to the top, because like it or not, there is always a bit of luck involved!