tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post3188873825988400457..comments2014-12-13T20:21:41.852-05:00Comments on Smart Football: Football, Luck, and NoiseChrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/07204245083374821812noreply@blogger.comBlogger8125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-30244917045632996162008-11-20T17:24:00.000-05:002008-11-20T17:24:00.000-05:00Very interesting post,I agree with the fundamental...Very interesting post,<BR/><BR/>I agree with the fundamental assumptions of probabilities ruling Football, or any sports for that matter, but I disagree with your conclusions in some ways:<BR/><BR/>Overall, I think you make good points if you assume all thing being equal. <BR/><BR/>Not only that, I think that complete randomness would work only if their were an unlimited number of possible plays in both the offensive and defensive playbooks, which would support the all things being equal assumption and further lead to the assumption that a football player at the professional level has an equally unlimited (or limited) potential for mentally (or even physically) functioning in the game as any other player (or coach).<BR/><BR/>2 points: <BR/><BR/>1) The skill levels, size and mental/physical capacities of teams, coaches, and players are highly varied, as are approaches to the game and methods for conveying information. Those variables serve to increase or decrease probabilities perhaps to the advantage of one team or another. <BR/><BR/>2) There is a certain amount of preparation that goes into a game plan that serves to increase the probability of success by the offense. For example, Michael Jordan will produce a certain probability of scoring by taking shots that he knows from experiential repetition are probable to fall. There are defenders, yes, but that seems to average out in the product of a season's scoring. <BR/><BR/>I agree that these in no way point to a certainty of outcomes, but it points to the idea that that Football cannot be construed as "random" or a game of "luck". It is a game of probabilities, like any other, but no more random because of any characteristic of complexity.<BR/><BR/>I agree that no one can assert that Football is deterministic in any way, but there is some determinism affecting the probability of success. Repetition, coaching ability, and mental/physical capacity have a large effect on efficacy of a team to execute. "Luck" as you have defined in terms of probabilities, takes the driver's seat. But psychology and simple physics power those probabilities.Jon Ehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/16087002514994745333noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-10963747893488150722008-11-19T21:33:00.000-05:002008-11-19T21:33:00.000-05:00Your argument here is completely incoherent. Nobo...Your argument here is completely incoherent. Nobody that I know of believes that a hot streak is the result of Fate. A free-throw shooter and a flipped coin are completely different animals, and in comparing them YOU are the one who is thinking deterministically (and reductively to boot). You want to claim that statistical permutations are the <I>real</I> culprit behind hot streaks--meaning that Texas Tech will score a TD 40% of the time in the same way that a coin will land heads 50% of the time, which only makes sense if TT was <I>bound</I> to score 40% of the time over a given period--but then accuse a coach who sticks with the QB who is performing best of determinism! <BR/><BR/>Physician, heal thyself.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-76521604218302406212008-11-18T00:16:00.000-05:002008-11-18T00:16:00.000-05:00I can't imagine you're not familiar with their wor...I can't imagine you're not familiar with their work (though they're not on your blogroll), but the Football Outsiders do a lot of stuff with "luck" in football games. They've learned that fumble recovery is essentially a coin flip (though forcing fumbles isn't), and they stress the probabilistic nature of kicking field goals. They often talk about predictive and non-predictive performance (e.g., the New York Giants' fumble recovery luck isn't predictive; their phenomenally consistent success rushing the ball is).<BR/><BR/>Absolutely love your site, by the way (first time, long time).Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-74525329031429652872008-11-14T20:44:00.000-05:002008-11-14T20:44:00.000-05:00Chris-I'm happy at least 1 person out there unders...Chris-I'm happy at least 1 person out there understood what I was talking about.<BR/><BR/>I agree with all the main points in your post. 1 quibble with your comment above, however. Or maybe just a clarification.<BR/><BR/>The sports of baseball and football (or any sport) can be compared in their luck fairly easily. You just need to compare the variance of a purely random outcome with the observed variance in team performance. <BR/><BR/>In baseball, the better team wins at most perhaps 60% of the time. But in football, the better team wins upwards of 75% of the time. So in <I>any one game</I>, baseball is far more determined by luck than football.<BR/><BR/>But there are 10 times more baseball games than football games in a season. 16 games is an incredibly small sample. So <I>over the course of a season</I>, football is indeed the 'luckier' sport.Brian Burkehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12371470711365236987noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-1874734144780289922008-11-14T02:14:00.000-05:002008-11-14T02:14:00.000-05:00I think that an important variable to consider whe...I think that an important variable to consider when comparing baseball to football in this context is the starting rotation. I am not a statistician, but I think it would be more appropriate to compare the win/loss ratios of individual pitches to the win/loss ratios of individual football teams.<BR/><BR/>For instance, let us look at this years NL Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum, and the other starting pitchers on his team:<BR/><BR/>Tim Lincecum: 18-5, 33 starts. <BR/>Matt Cain: 8-14, 34 starts.<BR/>Barry Zito: 10-17, 32 starts.<BR/>Jonathan Sanchez: 9-12, 29 starts.<BR/>Kevin Correia: 3-8, 19 starts.<BR/><BR/>If viewed in this manner, Lincecum won ~78% of his decisions and ~55% of his starts. These percentages would translate to approximately a 12-4 record on purely W/L, and 8-8 including all starting appearances.<BR/><BR/>Considering the Giants had an overall record of 72-90 (~44%), which would translate to 6-10/7-9 in the NFL, we see how valuable Lincecum was to the Giants, and that essentially they were a different "team" when he was on the mound.<BR/><BR/>My point is that comparing sports may take some creativity, and probably is meaningless. Nevertheless, I do believe that football is more "complex" than baseball in that football requires the orchestration of 11 individuals simultaneously under strict time requirements. Baseball is much more situational (balls vs. strikes, runs on-base, number of outs, etc.), yet there is also more time to analyze those situation; however, hitting a baseball is a helluva lot harder than hitting a ball carrier.Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-60828927331085361512008-11-13T23:04:00.000-05:002008-11-13T23:04:00.000-05:00beernutts:"Luck," defined as I did above, plays a ...beernutts:<BR/><BR/>"Luck," defined as I did above, plays a significantly bigger factor in football than in baseball. The primary reason is that you can largely model a baseball game as a series of one on one matchups: batters versus hitters. Yes, fielding can sometimes be important, but it only ends up being determinative in a very small class of plays.<BR/><BR/>Conversely, to model a football play, you have to model twenty-two different players and their varying, confusing, and unpredictable interactions. This increases the complexity -- and thus the luckiness -- of football games exponentially. This is one reason why the whole "Moneyball" thing is so big in baseball; you can actually do it. Compare this with the kinds of stuff going on at Football Outsiders: pedestrian, uninspired, and ultimately unhelpful to actual football practitioners.<BR/><BR/>Anyway, the other reason that football is not less complex is because the exam you use cuts exactly the other way. If 10 wins is normal and 14 is exceptional, then how thin is the margin between great and average? Only four games. Compare that to baseball where, as you say, the sheer volume of games is way higher. It's the converse of the law of large numbers: small sample sizes lead to increased unpredictability and hence luck regarding outcomes.Chrishttp://www.blogger.com/profile/07204245083374821812noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-55959956711265431242008-11-13T19:31:00.000-05:002008-11-13T19:31:00.000-05:00I had a discussion with a friend about the varianc...I had a discussion with a friend about the variance of football games versus baseball games. Winning 100 games in baseball (our of 160 is a very good year, but winning 10 games (out of 16) in NFL is just above average. 14-2 would be compared to winning 100 games in baseball, which, to me, shows variance in fotbball isn't nearly as great as variance in baseball, and I think this shows in normal observations.<BR/><BR/>Bu, doesn't that also show "luck" really doesn't play that big a role in determining football games?Beernuttsnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-15377771.post-57661545495546202342008-11-13T18:32:00.000-05:002008-11-13T18:32:00.000-05:00I appreciate your analysis regarding luck and the ...I appreciate your analysis regarding luck and the "hot hand"... but I have a question relative to the hot hand:<BR/><BR/>What about getting a defense "on their heels"? Catch a defense on a blitz with a screen, and they may not blitz as much... thus increasing the probability of completing a pass later in the game or even on that drive. Doesn't this play a significant factor in getting an edge offensively?Bryant34noreply@blogger.com