While talking with Bill Simmons at Grantland, Malcolm Gladwell brought up a guy he knew in college who he says could have been a pro-soccer, pro-baseball and pro-tennis player. Instead the guy went on to become a political science professor at the University of Toronto.We found a picture of Paul Kingston.
Here’s what Gladwell said about him:
Nothing beats the genuine two-sport star, by the way — where the two sports have absolutely nothing in common with each other. I was as impressed as anyone that Deion Sanders could play both football and baseball at the pro level. But a lot of what made him great at football was what made him great at baseball. I would have been more impressed if his second sport was chess or, like Pryce, he suddenly started getting published in the New York Times. (Pryce, incidentally, has also sold two screenplays.) I knew a guy like that in college. His name was Paul Kingston. He had a freakish level of athletic ability. Had he wanted to, I swear he could have played soccer in Europe, or baseball at the pro level or made the tour in tennis. You know how there’s something about the way elite athletes move that makes you realise that they don’t belong to the same species as the rest of us? That was Paul. He was really into Middle East politics. Now he’s a professor of political science at the University of Toronto.
The point Gladwell is making, in the vein of his book Outliers, is that success depends on many factors beyond innate talent.
MLB players may not have more innate talent than people like Kingston. They became successful through some combination of talent, practice, bias, and luck, just like how he became a professor.
Gladwell also shared some insight on LeBron James.
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