False Memories and Sports Analytics

The function and working of human memory is a misunderstood concept today.

It is believed that on recollection, usually human memories are replayed as they were recorded in our minds. However, in actuality, human memories are much more susceptible to change and can be easily moulded due to various internal or external influences. This altering of the actual memory, to recall and event or happening as it did not happen, gives rise to the concept of false memory.

Though, false memory may be more prevalent among various individuals, and under some particular circumstances, the truth is, to some degree or other, we all experience false memories. This misconstrued recollection and arrangement of events, in the form of false memories, may lead to various adulterated inclusion of facts and details, as a part of conclusive reports. With the increasing awareness about the function of human memory and its vulnerability to derive false memories, it is hard to ignore the influence of this, observed in various spheres of life including sports.

Along with playing an important role in influencing the critical decisions and conclusions in various fields, including the much publicised area in law, other areas such as sports have also come under the influence of false memories. The generation of false memories can greatly affect the conclusions and findings of sports analytics, to alter them, rendering them less effective in terms of accuracy.

It is misconceived, that on recollection, most of the events recorded in our memories are played as a replica of the actual happening, as witnessed by the viewer under consideration. On the contrary, psychologists explain the procedure of recollection as a ‘reconstruction’ of the recalled events, rather than the sequential replay of the recorded memory. This clearly describes the occurrence and origin of false memory.

As described by Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of California, Irvine, recollection of memory is more synonymous to putting together puzzle pieces than replaying a recorded video. A more direct comprehension and explanation may be that on recall the retained fragments of memory are recollected and rearranged as the person remembering the facts might find it most convenient, without voluntarily influencing the recollection in any way possible. Moreover, false memories can also be deliberately generated and influenced- a subject which has been of psychologists’ interest in the recent past.

The vulnerability of the human memory system towards internal and external influences that alter memories and generate false events and occurrences, has also observed to be playing a significant role in the presentation of inaccurate sports analytics and reports. There is a higher possibility for the occurrence of a false memory, in case of a single sighting. Brief duration of exposure to a happening makes it more vulnerable to change. The finding can easily be attributed as one of the main reasons, which works imperceptibly to alter the conclusions of sports analytics and reports, making them inaccurate.

Various other factors can also lead to the generation of false memories concerning sports, for instance, like and dislike for a particular sports team or player may alter the facts recorded in your brain. Your recollection of the sport analytics will be influenced and altered by your bias, towards or against, a particular team or player. False memories generated as a result of such factors, can affect the reports that are prepared following a sports event, with the inaccurate presentation of analytics. To counter such problems, introduction and maintenance of a structured analytics system in the arena of sports can greatly benefit the cause, which is discussed in further detail in our next article.

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