Given that games can be significant in many different ways, it is unclear why a more balanced Premier League would create more significance. was as low as seventeen.” This was still the same brutal Manchester where a few decades before Karl Marx’s pal Friedrich Engels had run his father’s factory, the industrial city so awful it inspired communism. Arsenal’s manager is one of the few people in soccer who can view the game from the outside. However, England doesn’t benchmark itself against Azerbaijan. The blacks will then be willing to accept lower wages than equivalently talented whites. In fact, if a kicker knows his chances of scoring for either corner of the net (depending also on which way the goalkeeper dives), he can choose the proportion of kicks to his natural side that maximizes the probability of scoring. That avoids a transition period or a panic purchase after the player’s departure. The eight million Londoners, in particular, have the highest incomes in the European Union, and so would need to receive a fortune in tax rebates to buy the happiness that the Games could bring them. After a half hour he stopped the game. We wanted to find out if there were dogs that didn’t bark: people who didn’t commit suicide because sports kept them going. I must admit, I find this riveting. Even Platini admits, “For forty years it’s been the biggest clubs that won the Champions League; when I played, too. In order to show that the boosters’ numbers didn’t add up, he generated some numbers of his own. This manager was trying to sign Brazil’s goalkeeper, Marcos. Of British men aged between thirty-five and fifty-four in 1996—the generation of most of these players’ fathers—a little more than half had qualifications above the most basic level, according to the British Household Panel Study. They also make me feel a bit guilty. There were no great sponsorship deals going on. When a company is accused of racism, it often says that while the black (or purple, or female) candidates may possess some of the relevant characteristics, there are other, less quantifiable, characteristics that they don’t have. This allows hundreds of millions of people to inhabit a small space of land. The first, from 1970 to 1981, is the small-town era, when clubs from some very modest places won the European Cup. This was supposed to happen in 1927. BAD STAFF The most obvious reason soccer is such an incompetent business is that soccer clubs tend to hire incompetent staff. Sometimes in game theory, what’s best for the actors is if they both do the same thing—going to the same restaurant to meet for dinner, for instance. Ricky George saw the ignorance of soccer in those days from pointblank range. The German Turks were bigger than Turkish Turks thanks to a better 1568584256-Kuper_Design 9/2/09 1:19 PM Page 299 CORE TO PERIPHERY 299 diet, and they trained like Germans. He kept on telling the truth regardless. Dearnaley never got beyond promising, because when he was in his early twenties his knee went. That equates to bookmakers’ odds of 3 to 1, or about as close as you can get to a sure thing in a two-horse race. (We’ll say more later about Beane’s brilliant gaming of the transfer market and its lessons for soccer.) The essential proposition of this book is that the best way to understand winning football is analytically, using the science of numbers. Liverpool and Everton might argue that they employed white players in the 1980s simply because the whites were better. Phase 6: The Day After Elimination, Normal Life Resumes The one exception is 1970, when England’s elimination may have caused Labour’s surprise defeat in the general election four days later. Quite likely, they will just aim for their favorite corner, hoping that their lack of a track record means the other side won’t know their preference. The average Scottish Premier League match drew a crowd of 15,580 in 2007–2008, which is not bad for a country of 5.1 million people. True, some of the infrastructure the country is buying will have its uses after the tournament. Dominance is transitory unless producers have the resources to stay ahead of the competition. The new globalized sports fan will happily snub his local domestic league. We calculated that England, given its population, income, and experience, “should” score on average 0.63 goals per game more than its opponents. By contrast, small cities are unlikely ever to become giants. For Germans aged under forty, suicide was the second-most-common cause of death. The noise diminished, their lives got easier, and that might just have helped their soccer. They’re full at the teams that win.” This argument is often made but flawed nonetheless. “That was quick,” someone remarked. It never has revolutions at all. Nor is this high mortality rate a new phenomenon. This would add 10.1 (the final effect) + 4 (prime time effect) + 1.4 (England effect) + 2.2 (Brazil effect) = 17.7 percent to average viewership expected in any country. Clubs often anticipate this by avoiding players who seem particularly ill-equipped to adjust. But in Europe, political and cultural barriers have limited migration. National Pastime: How Americans Play Baseball and the Rest of the World Plays Soccer. Game theorists have wondered for years whether people in the real world follow mixed strategies. Japan after the war, for instance, managed to teach itself from scratch how to make all sorts of highquality cars and electrical gadgets. Almost all the other foreign players Lyon buys are French speakers. She had told her husband, “All these guys would be happier if you find out what their needs are, and address their needs.” Another relocator had entered a German club as a language teacher and worked her way up. TIMET, whose headquarters is on the LBJ Freeway in Dallas, is not big business. In doing so it won seven matches, lost three, and tied twice (for an average winning percentage of exactly 66.66 percent). Tyrone Mears, an English defender who moved to Marseille, where his best relocation consultant was his teammate Zenden, says, “Sometimes it’s not a problem of the player adapting. English clubs as a whole could fall behind foreign competitors and lose their best players, but foreign clubs have financial problems and incompetent management of their own. Lorrie Moore, author of A Gate at the Stairs and Birds of America. 1568584256-Kuper_Design 9/2/09 1:18 PM Page 54 54 SOCCERNOMICS All this is what you might call Transfer Market 101. The reason is that it is such a low scoring game. We can say with a high degree of confidence that penalty takers and goalkeepers really do use mixed strategies. TIMET now mostly supplies the aerospace industry. ), 277(fig. Most of the players who will represent South Africa in 2010 were born in nonwhite townships in the 1980s. Rod Fort: Sports Monsters, Data Analysis at Big Clubs The London Games may pay for themselves in terms of happiness. Wrongly but understandably, he seems to have decided that Chelsea’s strategy was to put all the kicks to his left. In 2011, Chelsea’s director of soccer operations stated they have about 32 million points of data comprising more than 12,000 games. Norway won more points in our competition than all of Africa and Asia (excluding Oceania) put together. If a player got paid less than he was worth, he could move to another club. Our model itself reveals some of the logic of soccer fandom. We also need to control for the significance of each match. 1568584256-Kuper_Design 9/2/09 1:18 PM Page 51 GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDS 51 Strangely, it’s Alan Sugar’s tightfisted Tottenham that provides the worst example. So is Shaun Bartlett, the most capped player in South African history. Int. The first thing you notice on the Web site is how much attendance figures fluctuate over time. If you ask a diverse set of gamblers to bet on, say, the outcome of a presidential election, the average of their bets is likely to be right, too. According to a recent article on EPLTalk, following the retirements, sackings and relegations at the end of the season, then excluding Arsene Wenger, the average tenure of Premier League managers is 417 days. Managing My Life: My Autobiography. He asked his players to make their own decisions on the field. It will also have to put up surveillance cameras all over its stadiums and towns. There was more bad luck in 1973, when England failed to qualify for the next year’s World Cup because Poland’s “clown” of a goalkeeper, Jan Tomaszewski, unaccountably had a brilliant night at Wembley. Nor is there such a thing as an unknown genius striker starving in a garret somewhere.” In short, it would seem that in soccer there is no room for ideologies. It’s just different from any other country’s soccer culture. In many European countries, World Cups may now be the greatest shared events of any kind. Very hard. The price of tickets jumped. But in the 1970s, when darts throwing was the favorite sport of Chelsea’s Shed Stand, he didn’t go to matches. Fans would flock in from all around (“If you build it, he will come”), and they would spend money. Then came Argentina: as everyone in England knows, the English lost on penalties. Clubs in capitals have unparalleled catchment areas, even given the profusion of local teams. Two of the top four—Norway and Iceland—also appeared in our very cautious list of the countries that played the most soccer. A century later a new British archetype, the hooligan, in his own way probably added to the game’s glamour. ), 20 Bayern Leverkusen, 146 Bayern Munich, 140(fig. The  authors focus on the issue of possession. Tapp found that each season, on average, 1,000 of the 8,000 seasonticket holders did not renew their seats and were replaced by new people. His paper, “Professionals Play Minimax,” was published in 2003. It is eclectic in its willingness to draw on different sources and different methods of analysis. “It was a very weird trip,” Thompson wrote later, “probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done, and especially weird because both Nixon and I enjoyed it.” The reminiscence, in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, segues into an ominous musing on suicide, as a Nixon aide snatches away the cigarette Thompson is smoking over the fuel tank of the candidate’s plane. A mall, or a Cineplex, or even a hospital would generate more local spending. High wage entices high performers. Generally, European countries dominate at the top of Alavy’s table. “Why soccer in Norway?” ruminates Matti Goksøyr, the well-known Norwegian sports historian, when we break the happy news to him. The clubs in the Championship, the second tier of English soccer, have supposedly been doomed to irrelevance by Manchester United, and can only dream of one day clinging on at the bottom of the Premier League, yet their division in 2006–2007 had the fifth-highest-average crowd of any league in Europe. Soccernomics on Baseball Site Honus, Do Managers Matter? To work this out, we must calculate how random the dispersion of wins is in each of our three leagues. Small towns couldn’t afford the new soccer. The World Cup in Japan and Korea had disastrous TV ratings in Europe, because most games were played in the European late morning or at lunchtime. Clough used recruitment, Wenger used recruitment too, with new diet and fitness regimes, and even Michael Laudrup this year with his knowledge of the Spanish players market. But even if you naturally shoot to the keeper’s right, as most right-footed kickers do, sometimes you have to shoot to his left, just to keep him honest. But the swelling of the soccer economy that he embodied would eventually do in small clubs like Forest. Randomization of penalties is a completely logical theory that against all odds turns out to be true in practice. Teams that have more possession tend to win more often.