08/21/2013 09:19 am ET

Bill Barnwell On The Theory Of Momentum In Football - Grantland


Why do we put so much stock into the concept of momentum in sports? Outside of winning and losing, no abstract concept seems to stretch further across the entire spectrum of world sports than momentum. Conduct a Google News search for momentum in sports and you'll simultaneously see just how meaningful a target it is and how loose its application can be. Baseball teams want to carry the momentum to the final game of their series. College football teams want to carry the momentum from the end of their previous season to this upcoming year. NFL teams want to carry their momentum from the preseason into the regular season. And that's just on the first two pages of results as I write this. For every usage of the term as it applies to the physical concept involving mass and velocity, there are 30 articles that seem to describe taking some prior moment of success or tipping point and using that as a springboard to future success. It would seem like overkill if it weren't so damn insidious.

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