Well, if one of the players can throw a dagger, then the other player will have to make shots to save this one,” said Dr. Richard S. Tully, professor of psychology at Brown.
He said the fact that two men shot so accurately after being knocked out could help explain the results.
He noted that the players were not unconscious and likely did not suffer any damage.
“No, in fact the shot itself is a major contributor to the ability to shoot,” Dr. Tully said.
The research was conducted with a team of 17 undergraduate and graduate students.
“What surprised us is that you can’t imagine people getting knocked out by a tennis ball,” Dr. Tully said. “It’s just very unusual.”
The team then examined data from a national survey of people who play contact sports like volleyball, baseball or American football. Most said they would do it again and wanted to see if being knocked out made players take more shots.
“For basketball, it was statistically significant,” Dr. Tully said. “For Americans who play baseball it was significant.”
He added, “It’s not that they are more willing to play basketball if they get knocked out: they’re not.”
He explained why.
“When you get knocked out you try to get up and fight back, and the more shots you can take, the more chance you have of getting back up and doing the same thing,” he said. “So it’s a lot of shots.”
Dr. Tully said the data are compelling but it needed further study.
“I think that the next step would be to try to study a more large subset of athletes at different levels, because many people say, ‘No, it doesn’t matter if you get knocked out.’ ”
Dr. Tully said he was not concerned about athletes who are knocked out by other people.
He said he thinks the study’s implications are important because of its implications for the sports world.
“This paper has an impact on many countries around the world, and people are taking to social media about the study,” he said.
“There’s a huge need to understand why people play a particular sport, what it’s about for these guys, and to understand how to help them get back to those levels.”
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