Firing the Coach Doesn't Make the Team Play Any Better, Study Says

By Andrew Moseman | September 20, 2008 3:32 pm

baseballEarlier this week, this blogger’s beloved Milwaukee Brewers fired their manager, Ned Yost, with less than a month remaining in a pennant race. It’s pretty common in pro sports to cut the coach loose when things go south; it’s easier than firing all the players. But a study out of Sweden says that frankly, it doesn’t do any good.

Leif Arnesson at Mid Sweden University led a team that studied the Swedish Elite Series of hockey all the way back to the 1975/76 season. Sweden’s league is another bastion of mid-season coach firing—five were fired last season. But after studying the data, Arnesson says that firing the coach in mid-season has basically no effect: A good team is still a good team, and a bad team is still a bad team.

Arnesson says the effect should be the same across all sports, but you’d have a tough time selling that to New York Mets fans, whose team posted a 34-35 record with their old manager this season, and much better since replacing him. Of course, it’s possible that the Mets were always a good team, and their talent would’ve won brought them back into contention no matter what their managerial situation.

In any case, if you really want the team to perform better, make sure their circadian rhythms are properly adjusted.

Image: flickr/Matt McGee

MORE ABOUT: math, sports
  • buffalodavid

    I’m currently reading The Drunkard’s Walk Leonard Mlodinow, and this was mentioned in the opening. I’m sure it will be brought up in more detail later.Business suffers likewise, as a bad run of luck (for want of a better word) can lead to the firing of a talented CEO. Cold remedies that offer no real benefit get used over and over by folks because ONCE the pill got lucky.


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