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SteenIsThaFuture

Study: Correlation Of Birth Month And # Of Canadians In The Nhl

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Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called, "Outliers", in which he pick a person, place or thing that's out of the ordinary. Tell the "conventional" story of why it is so. Then tell the story again, adding on layer upon layer that buries the original explanation below an avalanche of additional "reasons why."

One of the topics was the birth months of Canadian hockey players in the NHL, in which he replies:

It's a beautiful example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Canada, the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey programs is Jan. 1. Canada also takes hockey really seriously, so coaches start streaming the best hockey players into elite programs, where they practice more and play more games and get better coaching, as early as 8 or 9. But who tends to be the "best" player at age 8 or 8? The oldest, of course -- the kids born nearest the cut-off date, who can be as much as almost a year older than kids born at the other end of the cut-off date. When you are 8 years old, 10 or 11 extra months of maturity means a lot.

So those kids get special attention. That's why there are more players in the NHL born in January and February and March than any other months. You see the same pattern, to an even more extreme degree, in soccer in Europe and baseball here in the U.S. It's one of those bizarre, little-remarked-upon facts of professional sports. They're biased against kids with the wrong birthday.

The study:

This is a tally up of all the NHL players from this season who were born from 1980 to 1990. Sure enough: Many more were born early in the year than late. Note: We did not screen for Canadian-only players.

Month Players

January 51

February 46

March 61

April 49

May 46

June 49

July 36

August 41

September 36

October 34

November 33

December 30

When asked if any leagues that support these younger players have looked into the matter, he replied:

As far as I know, none. I brought up this very fact with one of the most senior officials in the Canadian national junior hockey program, and pointed out that Canada was squandering the talents of hundreds of boys with late birthdays. I asked [an official] why he didn't just start a parallel league, with a cut-off in late summer. He shrugged and said it would be complicated. Complicated! I don't think, as a society, we are always particularly smart about how to make the best use of our talent. And if we're this bad at sports, imagine how bad we are at other things -- like getting the most out of young people's brains?

Your thoughts?

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Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called, "Outliers", in which he pick a person, place or thing that's out of the ordinary. Tell the "conventional" story of why it is so. Then tell the story again, adding on layer upon layer that buries the original explanation below an avalanche of additional "reasons why."

One of the topics was the birth months of Canadian hockey players in the NHL, in which he replies:

It's a beautiful example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Canada, the eligibility cutoff for age-class hockey programs is Jan. 1. Canada also takes hockey really seriously, so coaches start streaming the best hockey players into elite programs, where they practice more and play more games and get better coaching, as early as 8 or 9. But who tends to be the "best" player at age 8 or 8? The oldest, of course -- the kids born nearest the cut-off date, who can be as much as almost a year older than kids born at the other end of the cut-off date. When you are 8 years old, 10 or 11 extra months of maturity means a lot.

So those kids get special attention. That's why there are more players in the NHL born in January and February and March than any other months. You see the same pattern, to an even more extreme degree, in soccer in Europe and baseball here in the U.S. It's one of those bizarre, little-remarked-upon facts of professional sports. They're biased against kids with the wrong birthday.

The study:

This is a tally up of all the NHL players from this season who were born from 1980 to 1990. Sure enough: Many more were born early in the year than late. Note: We did not screen for Canadian-only players.

Month Players

January 51

February 46

March 61

April 49

May 46

June 49

July 36

August 41

September 36

October 34

November 33

December 30

Your thoughts?

Malcolm Gladwell is a brilliant mind first of all so I would take whatever he says into serious consideration. I've read his other two books ('Blink' and 'The Tipping Point' both of which I recommend highly) and have to say that he raises very convincing ideas which you uhave undoubtedly never thought of before. I only have my own personal experience with Minor League Baseball to draw from but I think his hypothesis is quite reasonable.

My birthday is August 16th and the cutoff date for Minor League Baseball here in Nova Scotia was August 1st. So I was one of those kids who was practially a year old than a good portion of the other players in the league. The league ranged from 10 to 12 year olds so in my final year I was in grade 7, stood 6 feet tall (and stood on a pitching mound no less which added another foot or so), weighed roughly 200 pounds and I was playing against kids literally half my size. The fear they experienced was palpable when they saw me walking to the pitchers mound. The fact that I was so much more developed than 95% of the players in the league gave me both the obviously physical and a mental advantage over my opponents. I was never the best pitcher in the league but I was certainly scouted more closely for all-star teams mainly because I could throw the ball really hard for a player in a prepubescent baseball league.

I'd be interested in hearing other people's experiences in their realm of sport as well. And buy Gladwell's book while you're at it. Another piece of info from the book which may tempt you regards Bill Gates. Apparently in 1968 a young Bill Gates walked into his elementary school classroom to find a desktop computer sitting on a table. And this was literally the first computer to find its way into a children's classroom at that time. So as with those children who are born in the first 3 months of the year, it all came down to the luck of the draw which would potentially define his success.

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I don't read books really unless they're sports-related.

The only book I've read in a long long time is Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which is an absolute gem and must-read for anyone who likes baseball.

In terms of age, I was on the old end of the stick in hockey (no pun intended) and it was a tad annoying, as I wasn't a highly skilled player, I was more of a defensive guy, grinder, go to the front of the net etc. and that kind of role depended on my teammates knowing where to go and what to do, which many times they weren't on the same level as me because their hockey sense wasn't developed enough.

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This interested me a bit, so I went and looked up Canadian birth statistics (percentage of live births per month over a series of years); aside from March being quite high, January being a bit high, and June being a bit low, the numbers are not all that far off. From quickly scanning the information, generally the highest birth-rates are in the early months of the year, while lowest birth rates are in the last three months.

I don't know that it is so much an exploitation as Gladwell tends to hint at. For this to be truly valid, he'd have to check two other significant statistics to compare his set to;

1) National birth statistics by month

2) Participation in hockey programs by birth-month

It is an interesting topic, but I personally think he hasn't dipped deep enough to actually determine this. I'm positive that to some degree there are those teams that will look for the big guys 8-10 months older than other players, but without examining the underlying statistics about the population being studied, the assumptions are not fully valid.

My two cents.

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This interested me a bit, so I went and looked up Canadian birth statistics (percentage of live births per month over a series of years); aside from March being quite high, January being a bit high, and June being a bit low, the numbers are not all that far off. From quickly scanning the information, generally the highest birth-rates are in the early months of the year, while lowest birth rates are in the last three months.
i) nine months before March is June, mommies and daddies last chance at some alone time before the kids are home for the summer?

ii) nine months before January is April, Spring fever?

iii) nine months before June is September, when the kiddies are back at school, so why i) ?

I don't know that it is so much an exploitation as Gladwell tends to hint at. For this to be truly valid, he'd have to check two other significant statistics to compare his set to;

1) National birth statistics by month

2) Participation in hockey programs by birth-month

It is an interesting topic, but I personally think he hasn't dipped deep enough to actually determine this. I'm positive that to some degree there are those teams that will look for the big guys 8-10 months older than other players, but without examining the underlying statistics about the population being studied, the assumptions are not fully valid.

My two cents.

I agree that without looking at the population statistics, it's too much to say why this happens...

but a point that may support the claim... if some very young Canadian players have a significant age advantage over the rest of their league, the die may be cast that they are going to benefit because Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence deliberately tries to identify specific players to nuture all the way through juniors...

the breakdown of the last five U-20 Teams Canada by birthdates:

2008: Jan-Apr 7 May-Aug 9 Sep-Dec 6

2007: Jan-Apr 12 May-Aug 7 Sep-Dec 3

2006: Jan-Apr 12 May-Aug 8 Sep-Dec 2

2005: Jan-Apr 12 May-Aug 7 Sep-Dec 3

2004: Jan-Apr 15 May-Aug 4 Sep-Dec 3

it should be noted that the IIHF U-20 World Championship also uses a Jan 01 cut-off date (I think)...

but one last point to brings up: even though youth hockey programs use a January 01 cut-off date, the NHL Entry Draft (currently) uses Sept 15, so that throws another complication into things...

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This interested me a bit, so I went and looked up Canadian birth statistics (percentage of live births per month over a series of years); aside from March being quite high, January being a bit high, and June being a bit low, the numbers are not all that far off. From quickly scanning the information, generally the highest birth-rates are in the early months of the year, while lowest birth rates are in the last three months.

I don't know that it is so much an exploitation as Gladwell tends to hint at. For this to be truly valid, he'd have to check two other significant statistics to compare his set to;

1) National birth statistics by month

2) Participation in hockey programs by birth-month

It is an interesting topic, but I personally think he hasn't dipped deep enough to actually determine this. I'm positive that to some degree there are those teams that will look for the big guys 8-10 months older than other players, but without examining the underlying statistics about the population being studied, the assumptions are not fully valid.

My two cents.

Very good point. It wouldn't have taken that long to compare these numbers to the birth rate and give some sort of ratio or something. However, my instinct says there is probably something to it.

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