Changing The Rules

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Gladwell theorizes why Davids beat Goliaths:

Insurgents work harder than Goliath. But their other advantage is that they will do what is “socially horrifying”they will challenge the conventions about how battles are supposed to be fought. All the things that distinguish the ideal basketball player are acts of skill and coördination. When the game becomes about effort over ability, it becomes unrecognizablea shocking mixture of broken plays and flailing limbs and usually competent players panicking and throwing the ball out of bounds. You have to be outside the establishmenta foreigner new to the game or a skinny kid from New York at the end of the benchto have the audacity to play it that way. George Washington couldn’t do it. His dream, before the war, was to be a British Army officer, finely turned out in a red coat and brass buttons. He found the guerrillas who had served the American Revolution so well to be “an exceeding dirty and nasty people.” He couldn’t fight the establishment, because he was the establishment.

Ezra Klein defends Gladwell's piece against the somewhat recurrent charge that he is a brilliant recapper of the bleeding obvious.

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