There’s A Lot of Resulting in the Results
by Zach Marsh on Feb 7, 2020
As morning broke Monday, with the Super Bowl finish only hours old, the real “answers” started to pour in. Did Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs win the game or did Kyle Shanahan and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo lose it. It is nearly impossible in today’s television era to simply enjoy a contest. No, we aren’t content unless we can assign blame. Sure, we all like heroes, but a real goat is what the media seems to be in desperate search of.
For those who missed the game, the San Francisco 49ers held a 10 point lead with 8 minutes to go before the Chiefs came back and won the game 31-20. The Chiefs performed a feat which they had accomplished in each of the previous 2 playoff games, coming back after trailing by more than double digits. However, instead of reveling in the entertainment of the comeback, the debate raged about how badly the 49ers coach screwed up by not running the ball more when they got the ball back still leading by 3 points.
I confess I may have fallen off a turnip truck, but it wasn’t yesterday. I am aware that careers and salaries are earned breaking down results and performances of our most idolized stars. But after awhile it all gets so tiresome. While each of these pundits would have you believe in the obviousness of each coach’s decision at the moment of decision, it’s funny how few are there at the time to question it. In fact, to go a step further, in football there are coaches on both sides, each one trying to guess what the other will do. If the decision of one coach is so obvious, then it would only seem evident that the other coach would be prepared for that decision. Should Kyle Shanahan have called another run play? I don’t know. Would it have changed the outcome? No one can know for sure. We do know that the pass call didn’t work that time, but we don’t know if it would’ve worked 8 times out of 10. You see my point? Just because it didn’t work that one time doesn’t make it the wrong decision.
We face a lot of the same challenges in investing. Outcomes of decisions are felt and realized fairly quickly, but always after the moment of action has passed. Similar to a coaching decision, and investment decision should be made based upon the likelihood of success and not simply based upon the path of least blame. There are so many different paths upon which that future may unfold that simply evaluating the decision based upon the outcome is naïve and misguided. What if the results had turned out slightly different. What if instead of getting the ball back and leading his team for another touchdown, Patrick Mahomes had fumbled? How would sports commentators shift their narrative then?
While narratives are fun and exciting to construct because they give us all a sense of control over the forces of the universe, many outcomes are as random as the flip of a coin. And just because the likelihood is 50/50 doesn’t mean we can’t get heads 10 times in a row. Which, by the way, is kind of what the market feels like right now.
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