Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Excitement in sport

The headline had me flummoxed -- "Soccer more exciting than football," it says. Sad to say, it took me a few seconds before I realised the article was talking about American Football.

I've never been a fan of the American game, despite it's potential attraction as a master chess game between two tacticians (the coaches) deploying their highly trained pawns in battle. Apparently my position is rational, or at least the headline above would seem to suggest so.

Sadly, when you dig into the detail, these so-called researchers have done little more than assess the predictability of a result. Big deal. My relative success in predictions competitions online tells me that, contrary to their estimation, results are actually fairly predictable in most sports. Seems that watching Roger Federer, for example, would be classified as thoroughly boring.

I suppose the approach is symptomatic of the American viewpoint on sport that I hear espoused so frequently. When a person cannot appreciate that a 1-1 draw, or a drawn Test match can genuinely stir the emotions and keep one on the edge of one's seat, then it becomes difficult to rationalise the inherent excitement of a sport.

Ostensibly, if you awarded a point to each team for every successful pass or some such, resulting in United beating Arsenal 278-192 in the FA Cup Final last year, as an example, soccer would suddenly become more exciting to the average American. Go figure.

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