Saturday, June 12, 2010

Whose World? What Cup? (Day 02)

In their first match, South Korea have scored as many goals as France, Greece, Mexico, South Africa, and Uruguay (in alphabetical order) combined have contrived to score up to this point. It is an interesting phenomenon.

This is perhaps the reason why some people don't like football; the scores don't have the majestic digits of rugby or basketball or even Scrabble™. Many games are dour 0-0 or 1-1 affairs; a 3-1 match is exciting and 7-0 is a truly unusual phenomenon. If that were a rugby score, 7-0 would have indicated a truly terrible game.

I once watched a rugby match back in the old days when Ireland scored five goals for 15 points. Like basketball, the scores are inflated by multiplying and then adding a 'difficulty bonus'. I wonder how that would work in football: would you give 2 points for a shot from within the penalty box, 1 point for a converted penalty, 3 points for a shot from outside the box?

Ah, no point dreaming up heresies. On to the Argentina-Nigeria match, another Afro-American combination which looks as if it could be exciting. We hope that, this time, looks will not deceive...

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OpenID turinhurinson said...

I'm not a big fan of sports where the scores are routinely 90-85 (e.g. basketball), but the low scores in football do bother me. They suggest that most of the action of the match doesn't really matter - only that one play where a goal was scored is relevant.

They also make me think that too much of the game is determined by luck - if one team's skill gives it a 1% likelihood of scoring a goal every minute and the other team's gives it a 2% likelihood, it would still be extremely common for the worse team to win the game. Yet you only play one match between the teams, and that one match is thought to show which team is better.

My preferred sport is baseball. An average score for a baseball game would be 5-4, with 1-0 being an exceptionally low-scoring game (but not unheard of) and 15-9 being an extremely high-scoring game. I think that strikes a good balance between every score mattering and there not really being enough scores to tell which team is better

And, even better, a baseball season is 162 games long, and postseason series are 5 games for the division series and 7 for the league championships and world series. So there's actually enough evidence to determine which is really the better team.

Plus there's a bunch of cool statistical analysis you can do in baseball that's not possible in other sports. Ever heard of sabermetricians?

Sunday, June 13, 2010 7:50:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Turin: Hi there! Actually, I'm happy to think of baseball as a sport with the main aim of determining the best team in a group for a specific group of skills over a long period of time.

But I will also point out that different sports have different goals (ha) and different aesthetics. You could consider chess, where the point is the final state; or darts, where the point is to work out a win and then execute it.

As for cool statistical analysis, it depends on what you mean by cool — a lot of baseball statistics has to do with the large number of 'experimental trials' (i.e. games) and the infrastructure designed to capture that within a relatively static environment. Consider chess or bridge for an even more static environment, or freeform gymnastics for one that is much less so — or soccer.

Anyway, yes, good points. Baseball is a much better sport than basketball, I'd say. :D

Sunday, June 13, 2010 8:32:00 am  
Blogger sibrwd said...

Well then, what about shooting? You've got several hundred points in the qualifying stage (surely enough majestic digits, haha), and then the final stage where shots are scored to 1dp (so you can have really close finishes).

It totally beats me why more people don't follow it ):

Monday, June 14, 2010 3:37:00 am  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

sibrwd: well, it's all to do with the build-up; sometimes, the journey is indeed as important as the destination — we don't look only at the moment the ball enters the net, but at the way it was set up and scored... shooting is boring because each action is the same.

Monday, June 14, 2010 2:26:00 pm  
Blogger sibrwd said...

Oh well. I think it's still fairly epical that people can hit the target about fifty consecutive times though.

Sir, are you still holding on to your copies of Science? If you wish to get rid of them I will receive them with pleasure. (Although giant stacks of bio readings mean they'll be untouched for a while, sigh.)

Monday, June 14, 2010 6:45:00 pm  

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