Description vs. Evaluation

Last week I was in Atlanta at the 2012 AASP (Association for Applied Sport Psychology) Conference.  At the conference a presenter talked about the difference between description and evaluation.  In sport, we often confuse descriptions with evaluations, which can impact where we direct our attention.  Let me explain.

A basketball hoop can be described as being 10 feet tall, with a white net, and an orange rim.  That’s what it is.  It’s a clear description.  Factual.  When we describe we speak with certainty of what we see, but not necessarily how we feel.

An evaluation is based more on feelings.  We evaluate and create opinions of how we think things will go in the future, or how they went in the past.  Evaluations are opinions that lead to rankings, predictions, and analysis, but those aren’t facts.  For example, I used to have an NBA draft website where I evaluated how prospects would transition to the NBA.  Those evaluations were solely based on opinions, and trust me, I was wrong plenty with my evaluations.

Sports have become extremely evaluation based.  Everyone wants to know which team is the favorite, who is the #1 seed, and who is the next great athlete.  But, those aren’t facts, they’re simply how people evaluate the current situation.  If sports were played simply based on evaluation they wouldn’t need to be played at all. 

It’s important to be able to describe who you are.  Be you and be that well.  Even more importantly, as a team, make sure to direct attention to descriptions and leave the evaluations to the pundits.