Inattentional Blindness

Written by on January 28, 2019

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS January 27, 2019, #729… Inattentional Blindness After further review… 

Inattentional Blindness? Huh? What’s that and what’s it got to do with sports? This theory is an old as Houdini himself. We’ve all closely watched magicians perform their craft and when finished asked “How’d they do that?” Some call it Inattentional Blindness and it causes us to miss something even if our eyes never look away. During a magic trick your eyes may never look away, but you still didn’t see what happened!


While some may refer to the magicians’ tricks as “misdirection,” inattentional blindness is not the same. Misdirection causes you to look at a new subject. Inattentional blindness is a phenomenon that explains how people can fail to see what is directly in front of them. So, what’s the sports connection?


Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you saw or since have seen the NFC championship game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints played in the Superdome on Sunday, January 20, 2019, which was won in overtime by the Rams. In the fourth quarter with 1:50 minutes left on the clock, the Saints threw a pass to their receiver running at full speed at about the Rams 10-yard line. As the ball approached that Saints receiver, a Rams defensive back made helmet-to-helmet contact with him before the ball arrived. By NFL rules that contact was not only defensive pass interference, but a personal foul for the helmet contact. The game officials were in the correct position to “call” (throw-the-flag) pass interference and helmet-to-helmet fouls but didn’t. Why not? Inattentional blindness!
Many studies over several years have shown that happens to all of us.

Here’s an example by which you can test your I.B. by visiting this website. Did you see the gorilla the first time while you were counting the ball-passing? In the NFC championship game did you see the pass interference and the illegal helmet contact in real time, i.e., when it happened? Real-time for the officials to make that call was three (3) seconds. We all saw it when it was replayed in slow motion. But that’s not the way the game is played.


If you were to ask those officials why they didn’t see the P.I, and P.F., they probably couldn’t tell you. What they would tell you is that they were looking right at the play. It can happen to us all. That’s why talking or texting on your cell phone while driving (or even walking) is dangerous.
Will you take care not to let Inattentional Blindness affect what you see?

To contact Jim, go to JimTunney.com or email Jim@JimTunney.com.


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