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Too Much Talent Hurts Sports Teams

When it comes to winning games, most pro sports teams go after talented players. Everyone wants a team of stars. But a new research study published in Psychological Science argues that too many talented players can actually hurt the team's overall performance. The research study is titled "The Too-Much Talent Effect."

When the researchers analyzed professional sports, especially basketball and soccer, they discovered that talented players helped teams win—but only up to a point. Teams loaded with star players found that the too-much talent effect actually hurt the team's chances of winning. Teams with the greatest proportion of elite athletes performed worse than those with more moderate proportions of top level players. Star-studded basketball teams had less assists and rebounds than teams with more average players. The researchers concluded, "When teams need to come together, more talent can tear them apart."

An article summarizing the study observed:

Why is too much talent a bad thing? Think teamwork. In many endeavors, success requires [team effort] towards a goal that is beyond the capability of any one individual … When a team roster is flooded with individual talent, pursuit of personal star-status may prevent the attainment of team goals. The basketball player chasing a point record, for example, may cost the team by taking risky shots instead of passing to a teammate.

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