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Showing posts from March, 2015

David and Frankenstein's Monster

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There have been many stories in the 'David and Goliath' mode through the centuries. All involve an overmatched competitor somehow winning against an overwhelming opponent. Unsurprisingly there have been very few popular stories where the overwhelming favourite comfortably defeated its opponent. Despite the lack of anecdotal evidence, I would suggest that this is the far more common occurance. As fun as underdog stories are, given the choice, most people would rather go into a contest with the odds stacked heavily in their favour.

One of the things that people love about sport is the relative 'even-ness' of the competition. Salary caps and drafts attempt to create this situation artificially in many leagues around the world (but not all). And then there is the old adage that a Champion Team will always beat a Team of Champions. But what are we really talking about with these two types of teams?

The Champion Team is the one where the whole is greater than the sum of the…

Analysing Analytics

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While I haven't joined the course, I've been following the current Sports Information and Analytics conference presented by University of Canberra. There have been a lot of discussions and links to follow, most of which have got me thinking about analytics.

This article provides a nice definition of Analytics: the science of logical analysis. I've written about various aspects of this topic for a number of years:
Why collect data if we don't analyse it?Data v KnowledgeThe history of analytics There has rarely been a neater example of the extremes of analytics opinion as the recent debate centring on former NBA star, turned commentator, Charles Barkley and former non-athlete, turned NBA team GM, Daryl Morey. This debate could only happen because of the advancement in the analysis of data and the credibility that provides.
I'm not saying analysis wasn't done previously, but it didn't have the same resources. A lot of the time 'analytics' was done by th…

To Win, or Not to Lose

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I've had the debate a number of times over the years about the difference between playing not to lose, and playing to win. Sometimes it seems complicated but really it is a simple risk/reward situation.

I've had the debate about a team who played a high risk strategy which relied on a very high level of skill and a completely different game style to anyone they competed against. The argument was that it was too risky to win a gold medal at the Olympics. The proof of this being, of course, that the team didn't win a medal at the Olympics. But the alternative was, on a really great day, if things went their way, they might make the top 8, but wouldn't make the top 3. And they were playing to win.

The idea came up more recently at the Australia Open when a player was derisively described by a commentator as a gutsy little player without the weapons to beat any of the big players (though occasionally she does.) In tennis, with the millions to be made, playing not to lose …