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Hidden Gems

Marshmallows and Pro Drafts

It’s too bad that pro sports teams cannot go back in time and give potential draftees what is known as the marshmallow test.
The results would no doubt help these multi-million-dollar franchises to find hidden gems and to avoid draft disasters.
Led by psychologist Walter Mischel, a professor at Stanford University, the marshmallow test studied delayed gratification.
It addressed the question, “Who can give up what they want NOW for what they want MOST?
Researchers say the results do a good job of predicting outcomes that range all the way from success to jail.
In the experiment, devised in the early ’70s, 4-year-olds were offered a choice between one immediate reward or two rewards if they waited for a period of time.
You can learn more in this video. And as Joachim de Posada points out in this TED talk, there’s more than marshmallows at stake.
The test is really about discipline and self-control. Can you study when you want to party? Diet when you want to eat? Work out when you feel like staying in bed? Persist when you feel like quitting? All of those questions matter in sports (as well as in school, business and in facing life’s ups and downs).
Of course, only a few people have ever taken the test, so there is no database that teams can examine. And the test only answers the question of which children have self-control, not the question of why.
Still, it’s a reminder that predictors do exist. Finding them would make a difference, whether in the recent NFL draft, or in the upcoming NHL, NBA and MLB events.


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