Science lies at the heart of nearly every sports story of any consequence—the mysteries of brain damage, the seasonal hysterias over performance-enhancing drugs, the progression of sports analytics from the interstices of the common box score to the movement of the human body, the number of non-alcoholic beers it would take to get you drunk. Science is all there, in one form or another. And yet too often in sports it's presented as wizard magic and aphorisms. So, welcome to Regressing. We're going to work on that.
The troll's argument has usually been that the nerds are turning sports into a live-action spreadsheet fight, an actuarial endeavor instead of an athletic one—that information, in essence, is ruining sports. If there's a governing idea to this site, it's this: Information makes sports more fun, not less.
It's more compelling to watch Anquan Boldin torch top-notch secondaries when you know he's always struggled against them as a WR1. You can better appreciate whatever Kobe Bryant does next on the court when you know the history of Achilles injuries. Rocky Balboa is so much more impressive when you realize he is the world's most naturally gifted distance runner since Pheidippides.
Which brings us to the site's second premise: Athletic brilliance and failure are a lot more interesting if you understand the limitations being transcended or tripped over. Individuals will continue to determine the outcomes in sports, but they've never had any say on the rules of the universe around them. Know more about those rules, and you'll more fully enjoy the accomplishments of those individuals. Like Usain Bolt's 9.58. Or Julie Moss's "chocolate mess."
What should you expect from Regressing, exactly? We'll have a little of everything—science, stats, injury explainers, pretty maps, infographics, gambling and game theory, and whatever other wonky things we deem worthwhile. We're not interested in front-office cosplay or what someone's torn ACL means for your fantasy team. We want actual smart people to tell us actual smart things. We want the experts themselves to participate—as authors, as commenters, as sources—and when necessary, we'll play translator because sometimes heady science talk barely counts as English. We want to dick around with data for no other reason than that we think it's fun and occasionally illuminating. And perhaps most importantly we want to avoid the various pitfalls that bedevil all pop journalism about brainy pursuits. (Hey, I think I read somewhere that if I practice for 10,000 hours, I'll become a good science writer.) Think of Regressing as Deadspin in a lab coat.
Want to participate in some way? Got any ideas or tips? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Now let's get smart together.