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I’ve gotta start hitting the books

I’ve gotta start hitting the books I’ve gotta start hitting the books

People tend to have short memories, even sports reporters who have college degrees in history. I like to pride myself on my ability to retain information and minutiae that others have forgotten, but sometimes I make mistakes, or have not done the research.

You see, a few weeks ago, I wrote a football story about the Abbotsford Falcons and their victory over Thorp. After the game the players spoke about how it felt to end their season on a victory, and several of those comments made their way into my article.

As a writer, how could I not use that quote? What better way to sum up 2020 and a year with COVID-19 then by praising the Falcons and their ability to defeat Thorp and this season on a high note. After all, in previous years, any team that ended their season on a victory did so with a state title.

But that’s where a little thing like recency bias can come in. If you’ve never heard that term before, recency bias is a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones. A memory bias, recency bias gives “greater importance to the most recent event.”

In other words, the younger you are, the more likely you are to attach meaning to the earlier events, that is, events that you have been able to witness. For example, today’s teenagers have never seen a Wisconsin Badgers football team with a losing record. You’d have to go all the way back to 2001 for that.

As a guy who is under 40, I don’t have much of a recollection of a time when the Packers did not dominate the NFC North, or win titles and have winning seasons. But you talk to older, diehard Packers fans, and they’ll recall with a shudder the 1970s and 1980s, when Green Bay was a doormat for the Chicago Bears to dry their feet on. In fact, the most recent victory by Green Bay over Chicago gives the Packers their 100th, and Green Bay enjoys a 100-95-6 advantage in the all-time series.

Now, that looks great, the first team to reach 100 wins, but if you were to tell any Packers fan in 1990 that this would be the case 30 years later, and they’d have laughed at you. Prior to Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, it was the Bears who had a commanding lead in the rivalry. In 1992, Favre’s first year with Packers, the Bears were up 81-58-6.

How quickly fortunes change and how quickly people forget. So it was nice when Jim Colby came into the TP’s office on Friday and brought in a scanned photo of the 1933 Abbotsford football team. His father, Len, was in that picture, little more than a boy, and Abbotsford finished the year 9-0. Times were different back then, and sometimes even an undefeated team did not make the playoffs.

It was a good lesson for me to remember — that history is full of forgotten heroes and former glories that are now buried under age and dust. One thing is for certain, I am definitely going to do more research.