It is not surprising that there are a number of sporting example in the book (and there is also a discussion of the non-scientific attitude of economists). Team Sky, a professional cycling team, feature prominently. No prizes for guessing the soccer player that the "Beckham Effect" is named after. There is also a discussion of how F1 racing teams collect data - including measuring the angle the wheel-gun operator touches the wheel-nut during a pit-stop.
Then there is the discussion of the less than scientific approach taken by pundits to Fabio Capello's time as manager of the English soccer team. While things were going well, Capello's disciplinary approach was taken as the reason for the success. After a 4-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals, Capello was seen as being too tough. Syed is critical of those who are unwilling to take the English defeat as evidence that maybe the toughness of the manager is not the explanatory factor.
Syed is not the first to notice the inconsistent approach to explanations of success or failure. My favourite soccer pundit, John Giles, is particularly good on the issue. Giles is the undisputed godfather of pundits in Ireland. A former outstanding midfielder with Leeds United and Ireland, he also managed as club and international level. In my opinion he is at his best in his Off-the-Ball radio slot (usually with Ger Gilroy). Regular listeners to the slot will recall his various recollections of another England manager. Don Revie managed Giles when Giles played with Leeds. Revie then went on to manage England. Giles frequently tells the story of how the success Leeds enjoyed under Revie was put down to the pre-game routines like carpet bowls and bingo while England's failures were attributed to the same routines.
Unlike Syed, Giles never makes references to the research literature. Nor does his provide much in the way of statistics or quantitative evidence. However, he thinks and talks about the game in a way that Syed would approve.