“Not watching sports,” my fellow economist Adam Ozimek tweeted last week, “is my productivity hack.” And so, as another NBA season starts, I face the perennial question of how much of my attention basketball — and sports in general — deserves.
There is a longstanding tradition of American intellectuals (think Philip Roth or George Will) being enamored of baseball. But it’s actually a much broader movement. Sports provide a venue for analytical thinking devoid of many of the partisan biases that infect discussions of politics. I have to confess to being a Washington Wizards fan, but I maintain that I am quite clear about their weaknesses — a claim I am not sure I can make about my political positions. Following at least one sports team can help remind us what objective thinking feels like.