Can A Good Decision Yield A Bad Result?

Photo Creative Commons

Photo Creative Commons

Going back to this past weekend, it seems that the media want to portray the decision to pass in the last few seconds of the SuperBowl game on the 1 yard line as the worst decision in SuperBowl history. Since for me football will always be European football, also known as soccer, I decided to do my research and get some opinions from people who have been following this game for a lot longer than me and have better expertise in the field.

As it turns out, according to an article on GrantLand “Before Sunday, NFL teams had thrown the ball 108 times on the opposing team’s 1-yard line this season. Those passes had produced 66 touchdowns (a success rate of 61.1 percent, down to 59.5 percent when you throw in three sacks) and zero interceptions. The 223 running plays had generated 129 touchdowns (a 57.8 percent success rate) and two turnovers on fumbles.” So really when we get down to the statistics and the success rates from the past, it seems the decision may have been the right one no matter how unfortunate the result may have been.

In life we tend to do a lot of outcome-based criticism without taking into account whether the unfortunate outcome came from a right decision or from a wrong decision. There will be some that will argue that as long as the outcome is negative then the decision must have been the wrong one, based on the mindset that we either have results or we have excuses, but is that really the case? In this case, according to previous statistics, this decision had a high chance of success and a no chance of failure since there were no previous interceptions in similar situations. So was it really a wrong decision or was it a good decision with an unhappy outcome.

However we look at it, I believe it’s important to recognize that we can’t decide the validity of a decision simply based on the outcome. As with this decisions and many others that have happened or will happen, the outcome may just be that 1% that we thought could never really happen.

Maybe instead of criticizing every decision in our lives based on its outcome, we could look at whether the decision was made in the right way with the information we had at the time, as a decision made right at the right time is sometimes more valuable than the outcome.

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