Is ‘momentum’ in real football? UWM teacher’s software says yes

Few things are more controversial in sports than “momentum.”

Most observers insist it’s real, a concept that’s intangible but nevertheless observed and felt as sporting events transpire. The hot-shooting basketball player keeps making shots. The player who’s 4-for-4 is more likely to get that big hit in his fifth plate appearance. The team “on its heels” is likely to fall apart. Announcers constantly call attention to the seizing of momentum.

But is it something our brains just invented? Numerous studies and articles have considered the question, many arriving at the same answer: It doesn’t exist, no matter how much we believe otherwise.

“Psychologists will tell you there’s an evolutionary advantage to recognizing a pattern even when it doesn’t exist,” said Paul Roebber, who teaches data science classes and specializes in weather patterns at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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