Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots! (Part 2)
Read Part 1 (Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots – Part 1)
Read Part 3 (Armchair Quarterbacks Are Idiots – Part 3)
SUMMARY: In the previous article I admitted straight away that the title was neither PC nor particularly blessed with the ring of Christian virtue. It does however highlight the issue we’re addressing quite nicely. The problem with armchair quarterbacking (AQing) is that most armchair quarterbacks (AQs) act like idiots. That is the essence of the definition.
We’ve already discussed the data blind spot. It’s one deficit that insures the AQ has a good chance of making a foolish conclusion and pronouncement. If they’d sit down and shut up for half a second, their silence will serve their reputation much better!
In the second and third installments, I present two more blind spots that aggravate the AQs ability to really know what they think they know. These are deficits that the “armchair” inflicts on its “quarterbacks!”
- Strategic Deficiency – Perspective matters.
Proverbs 18:2 Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. (NLT)
Interested? If so, keep reading below.
By Kerry Krissel
DIG DEEPER: (Read the “SUMMARY” paragraph above first)
As I was saying (in the first installment) about AQs, they speak out of turn and with a certainty and air about them that smacks of arrogance and omniscience. They let on like they have all the information they need to justly call out the decision-maker and the decision they dislike. They tell everyone—whether they want to listen or not—why they would have made a different and better decision if it was them on the field. This is the issue because they’re not on the field. They’re sitting comfortably at home in their easy chair. No skin in the game. (Unless they’re betting on the game, which is a whole other chat!) Nothing on the line but their fantasy team’s success and their reputation as a sports analysis, both of which they defend with a passion and confidence far beyond what’s deserved or credible or even necessary.
2. Strategic Deficits
The first deficit was information. The AQ never has all the data they need, or that is available to the decision-maker that they call into question. That lack calls their decision into question. Read the first article to understand the deficit and the compromised situation the AQ is left with. (Add link Again)
The second point is that our desired outcome may be different than the decision-maker’s. This one is quite simple. They’re playing the long game and I’m playing the short game. Those over me are thinking many moves ahead and have the data and tactical advantage to do so. But I, from my limited and uninformed perspective there in my easy chair, can’t even see the entire chessboard. They’re willing to sacrifice a lesser piece to gain a tactical advantage, but all I see is loss. They’re working on a clever and detailed strategy that I don’t see, and maybe don’t even have a right to see.
From the limited and uninformed perspective of my easy chair, I can’t even see the entire board.
The sports reference, and more precisely the obvious reference to American football that armchair “quarterback” carries, is not the only setting where concerns over AQing can be applicable. Is this not the age-old struggle between parents and kids? The little one just sees that deliciously sweet candy. Mom, however, sees cavities and the dentist bill that is coming if she lets them have all the candy they want.
The child is simply curious, but dad knows that curiosity will hurt them in a way that’ll negatively affect their life. And from the other side, the adult allows the little one to experience a small or safe defeat or failure to help them grow resilience or learn how to deal with loss and vulnerability. The difference between the child and the AQ is innocence. The little one can be excused, but the critical and cruel AQ is much harder to overlook.
Maybe the coach and AQ have completely different personalities. One is naturally a risk taker and the other not. The observer only sees the immediate loss and has no idea that another game plan is afoot. Maybe neither are technically wrong. Maybe the same ends are in mind, and maybe both the decision-maker and the AQ’s choices would take the team to the same place. But the AQ, is notoriously impatient, premature, cocky, condemning, and critically blinded by their ego and lack of self-control.
The AQ rebukes the chess player who’s thinking multiple steps ahead while they’re playing Tiddlywinks! We’re hoping to apply a little pressure to snap one stupid little piece into a waiting receptacle but have little control and require even less strategy. They, on the other hand, are playing for bigger stakes with massive control over many moving parts.
The AQ, is notoriously impatient, premature, cocky, condemning, and critically blinded by their ego and lack of self-control.
An AQ criticizes the decision they have no responsibility for, feel none of the pressure for, are oblivious to the long-term strategies in play or market pressures bearing down. We have no way of knowing that tipping the balance here will win the day over there, even if some temporary pain must be endured. AQs tend to lose their head, speak out of turn, sound like they’d prefer the decision to be theirs, but often want none of the responsibility of making a wrong choice!
We make the AQs mistake with doctors and dentists and physical therapists and medical specialists. The doc says it’ll take this long to recover but we have a different idea. We think we’re stronger than most. Smarter than most. More careful than most. More durable and able to endure pain than most. We make exceptions for ourselves we have no business making and end up paying the price. Or maybe we do recover quicker than the doc said, faster than most, but months later there’s another ache that we come to find out is the side effect of not following the doctor’s initial order. The slow pace was protection against harm in another area, that from the doctor’s position, he saw. The pace he set was strategic, even if we were capable of a quicker recovery.
We just aren’t in the position to make some calls. Our strategy is based on incomplete knowledge. In fact, data and strategic deficits can share the same coin. The leader, coach, ref, doctor, politician, teacher, trainer, boss, mechanic, repairman – they all are in their position for a reason. You may think it’s the wrong reason or the wrong person (that they don’t deserve their position). But that does not change the fact that from their chair—the c-suite leaders’ seat, the docs educated stool, the politicians highbacked chair, and every chair other than my armchair—things look different.
Perspective is everything. Strategy creates viewing angles that make things look very different. Strategy is like a dozen different witnesses viewing an auto accident from all around the crash site. They all tell a sightly divergent story, yet they all are telling the same story, differently, from their limited perspective and angle. Misunderstanding another’s strategic intent leaves a deficit that causes us to misinterpret every move another makes.
From their chair—and every chair other than my armchair—things look different.
The end game is different. The coach can afford a loss so they play with a little more risk than the fan likes. The politician must concede here, to win there. The boss must cut there, to grow here.
Maybe, just maybe, depending on the context, the decision the AQ hates was made to protect a person even if it costs the game. Maybe the problem is that one values life’s over wins. Maybe one measures the win with different metrics. Maybe, the AQ doesn’t know as much as they think they do.
One more maybe. Maybe, just maybe, it was a horrible decision. Maybe they made a mistake because they got bad news just before the game began, just experienced significant loss, their life is in chaos, pain, change, or grief. The decision-maker has so much going on elsewhere that they’re distracted or confused or otherwise emotionally and so also mentally impaired. And here’s a maybe for you. Maybe they asked to be relieved from shot-calling because they know there’s a good chance they’re going to make questionable choices. But the boss said, “Buck up buttercup, and deal with it!” Maybe they hate the decision too but some bozo up in the executive suite radioed down the play and forced it on the coach, against the coach’s better judgment. Perspective matters. Having a heart matters. Character matters. And on that note…
There’s one more deficit that I’m even more concerned about. The first two were about information, analytics, strategies, and perspective more than anything. This third issue with AQs has to do with virtue. So, in the third of three blogs on AQs, we’ll continue by addressing the final deficits that makes AQing problematic, which is even more appropriate for Christians to consider, a deficit of virtue. (Link to part 3)
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