Don’t Judge a Person by Their Numbers

Don't Judge a Person by Their Numbers

Clayton Stehr, Staff Writer

In this day and age, the human element has all but disappeared in a sea of numbers when evaluating everything from athletics to academics. The shadow of qualitative data has all but put the qualitative aspect of humans in the dark, as evaluators refuse to lift the mask of numbers in order to see the real face that lies behind.

Last week, signing day for college athletes took over the spotlight of the sporting world, as four- and five-star recruits reached for the hat that would decide where they’re taking their massive frames and athletic prowess. A clear trend among five-star recruits is success in combine drills such as the 40-yard dash, shuttle, and power ball throw. Size also takes precedent in recruiting, as those who can claim to be over six feet tall and over 200 pounds receive far greater attention than those who don’t fill the criteria.

But do those numbers accurately forecast future success? The best answer is seen in the recent Super Bowl, as both the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks started zero former five-star recruits.

Future hall of famer, four time Super Bowl winner, and two time MVP Tom Brady turned from someone given no recruiting attention after high school or college because of his “below average” combine stats, running a 5.28 40-yard dash; clearly, this player will only be able to “compete for a practice squad spot with the Patriots.” There’s no way a guy with the worst combine stats out of any starting quarterback in the NFL could dominate the league for 10 years, right?

Tom Brady isn’t the only example. All-pros Anquan Boldin and Zack Miller ran dismal 40-yard dash time, only to evolve into dominating players. NaVorro Bowman, one of the most feared linebackers in the league, performed so poorly in the shuttle and four-cone times that many teams doubted he could play at the next level coming out of college. Under six foot quarterbacks Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, both pro-bowlers and Super Bowl champions, fell into the later rounds of the draft due to their underwhelming size.

Athletics aren’t the only realm where numbers tend to predominate. In today’s world, there is so much weight put on performance on one test that doesn’t even accurately reflect the intelligence of the person taking it. Just because someone knows how to prepare for a test, or has the money to take prep class after prep class, or can figure out what the fifty-seventh link on a chain of eight alternating colors would be if the first two colors were removed, by no means reflects someone that automatically deserves to be viewed as . A study done by former Dean of Admissions of Bates College, William Hiss, revealed after studying records of 123,000 students that test scores don’t correlate to how well students perform in college based on grades and graduation rates.

The person behind the number is slowly disappearing, as colleges focus on test scores and GPAs as opposed to looking at the applicant as a whole. Numbers play even a greater role in sports, as attention garnered in high-school and college usually becomes dependent on how low or high an athlete’s numbers are in certain tests. As long as numbers are given weight in evaluating, misconceptions about athletes and students will continue to thrive.