Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hockey goons and law school Arschlöcher: A multimedia hat trick for MoneyLaw

In blogging, if not in legal scholarship, one sometimes gets the feeling that one has scored a hat trick. So it is with Plus/minus and the problem of measuring Arschlochkeit. To celebrate the success of my post suggesting the use of hockey's plus/minus statistic as a basis for measuring goon-like behavior in law teaching, and to thank my readers for some very useful comments, I'm posting the following hat trick of YouTube videos:

1. Faithful MoneyLaw reader Ani Onomous has all but dared me to post Warren Zevon's Hit Somebody. I'll gladly sink to the challenge:

2. My dear friend, Guy Charles, evidently feeling free to read and comment on blogs now that he has finished his stint as an interim dean, suggests that I have mistakenly equated "deadwood" status with Arschlochkeit. Guy, as they say on the patinoires where Québecois players came to dominate hockey, tu as tort. Ever since I introduced the term Arschloch and all of its derivatives to MoneyLaw, I have taken pains to identify Arschlochkeit as a function of selfish, rude, destructive behavior, and not a function of mere scholarly failure.

I do agree with Guy Charles, and very much so, that "the fundamental problem is having someone on your team or faculty who will intentionally harm his/her colleagues to benefit themselves." And I suspect that Guy speaks from personal knowledge when he correctly observes that "[t]he only way to deal with the Arschloch is to leave the institution." In his honor, I'm posting this video of the notorious hockey goon, Tie Domi, fighting his own teammate in Helsinki:

3. This of course is MoneyLaw, and we should try at least occasionally to quantify our instincts. I've discovered, quite happily, that at least one website, HockeyGoon.Com, has defined "goon" status according to this formula:

PIM — 10G — 5A


where PIM = penalty minutes, G = goals, and A = assists. The idea is to count penalty minutes per game, discounted by behavior (scoring and helping teammates score) that actually contributes to the team's offensive well-being. Remarkably, seventeen players with at least 1500 penalty minutes exceed 2.00 on the goon scale, which is to say that they served, on average, at least one whole minor penalty per game, even after accounting for opponents' successful power plays and sharply discounting for any goals or assists these goons actually managed to register. Tie Domi, for what it's worth, is third all-time with 3406 NHL penalty minutes, but ranks a relatively modest 21st in the goon squad because he has accumulated enough goals and assists to reduce his goon statistic to 1.73. In terms of the plus/minus statistic that started this entire discussion, Domi has a career total of -54.

Learning of this formula has brought me so much pleasure that I feel compelled to display a hockey fight so popular that it has won nearly 10 million YouTube views. Surely this is ice hockey's video equivalent of Chris Fairman's SSRN download, Fuck.

So let's get started on building a formula for Arschlochkeit, the academic equivalent of hockey goonery directed at one's own teammates. In the interest of avoiding further damage to Tie Domi's reputation — Mr. Domi, after all, plays hockey in lieu of teaching law — I propose giving our model Arschloch an easily remembered name. How about Lars Rogersson? The real Lars Rogersson is an erstwhile European soccer player who happens to have exactly the sort of name you'd imagine of a hockey goon from Stockholm or Malmö.

Of our model goon, Lars Rogersson, we need to ask three questions:
  1. What traits make Professor Rogersson such an Arschloch?

  2. Can we quantify the essential, indispensable components of Professor Rogersson's Arschlochkeit?

  3. Can we weave those quantifiable components into an easily calculated, meaningful metric that separates Arschlöcher like Lars Rogersson from decent, well-intentioned, and valuable team players in the legal academy?
As always, I welcome comments and insights from MoneyLaw's thoughtful readership.


Blogger Jeffrey Harrison said...

Jim: It's your show for me knowing whether to praise team players depends on what the team is up to. I mean Herman Goering was a team play. It's a little like the overused concept of "leadership." I'm all for it if the ends are honorable but there a gobs of team players and effective leaders whose ends are hardly noble. I think this may be true of some law faculties as well where aspirations are low and what you may personally call a team player is actually rocking the boat. Sometimes a team player simply perpetuates a status quo that is nothing to be proud of. I feel like the cart has gotten not just in front of the cart but is leaving it in the dust. How about stating what the team should be doing in your view. If the team is not doing that, do you want yet another team player?

7/23/2008 10:51 PM  
Blogger Ani Onomous said...

Very helpful post. I'm glad you chose what I take to be a fictitious model in Rogersson, thereby avoiding the perils of a Tony Twist suit!

I would unhelpfully add to your questions:

4. Can that metric be used to establish meaningful incentives and sanctions to change behavior or otherwise improve matters, in a way that is not subject to abuse by administrative Arschlocher?

5. Do law schools have sufficient incentives to take the measures noted in #4, and will they fare well in their "competition" by doing so?

7/24/2008 12:43 PM  

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