Another Olympics comes to a close, and Tokyo 2020 (aka “Tokyo 2021”) has been been a great success despite the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yes, the stadiums were without crowds, and it was a year late, but the fact that it went ahead at all is amazing. Many naysayers were poo-pooing the Olympics… Tokyo 2020 is specifically for going ahead in the middle of a pandemic, but also the Olympics in general for the financial burden it usually puts on host cities/nations. While I acknowledge that the criticisms of the IOC are well deserved, and the concerns are valid, and am disappointed by the over-commercialisation of sports… whenever the Olympics come around, I prefer to put a pin in my cynicism for two weeks and enjoy the sporting spectacle that I’ve always loved about the Olympics.
I stumbled upon a link on the ABC News website titled “The stats don’t lie: Australia’s gargantuan World Cup task” which took me to James Maasdorp’s article titled “Comparing the Socceroos to the giants of world football through goals, appearances and social media”.
Unfortunately, for James, he seems to have forgotten that “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” There are a heap of statistical misrepresentations (I’m reluctant to call James a liar) in the analysis presented, and I hope to address just some here.
Now let me first state that while I do not necessarily disagree with James’ point that the Socceroos have a tough road ahead in Russia; I merely have an issue with his poor use of statistics to try to support it.
First, his use of Number of Players in the ‘Big 5’ Leagues. This ignores the quality of players going around in the other leagues; one could argue that the top players in other leagues such as Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil or Mexico, are as good as or better than the average in Spain, England, Italy, France & Germany. Also, while, yes the number of players in the ‘Big 5’ is an indicator of the depth of talent the selectors had to choose from, in the end, each team at the World Cup only gets to select 23. Similar issue with presenting the Appearances stat.
Next, the use of Goals Scored and Combined Goals & Assists in these ‘Big 5’ leagues is a fundamentally flawed measure because it doesn’t allow for the number of players from the countries in those leagues. Obviously, a country with way more players in the ‘Big 5’ will score & assist in way more goals. If you allow for the number of players, i.e. Number of Goals & Assists per Player, Australia ranks 8th which is pretty good compared to our Group C opponents Denmark, France and Peru ranked 11th, 22nd and 24th respectively. (FYI – Egypt is ranked #1).
Now, just for shits-and-giggles, let’s look at the Appearances per Player… Australia is ranked #1 on this measure. Peru is 5th, Denmark 6th and France 19th. What does this tell us? It could be argued that it shows the quality of the players in the ‘Big 5’ from the country, i.e. that they’re actually playing in the leagues more regularly, and this also allows for quality defenders and goalkeepers who would be under-represented in the Goals and Assists figures.
I could slice and dice these stats a few other ways, but in the end, all I would prove is what I’ve shown above, i.e. STATISTICS LIE.
On the other stats James presents… FIFA18 rating, Social Media Following (SMF), and Transfer Market Valuation (TMV). The SMF figure is completely irrelevant… yes, there may be a correlation between the quality of the player and his following, but correlation is not causation… otherwise, Kim Kardashian would be playing at the World Cup (but then again, USA didn’t qualify). FIFA18 ratings and TMV are historic measures of the individual, Russia 2018 is a one-time event, now, and football is about the team. If past World Cups have shown us anything is that great player and teams often fail when the world is watching, minnows often topple football powerhouses. How many people expected Cameroon to beat Argentina in the opening match of 1990, or Costa Rica to beat Scotland later that same tournament? How many predicted Senegal to defeat France in 2002? Or Switzerland’s victory over eventual winners, Spain in 2010? What were these players EA Sports FIFA stats? What were the TMV of the Cameroonians, Costa Ricans, Senegalese & Swiss?
I have hope for the Socceroos. At their best, even with their current squad (which seems to be lacking the calibre of past Socceroo World Cup teams), they can beat Peru and Denmark… and what gives me hope in their opening game against France, is Le Bleu’s ability to self-destruct… despite its strength.
All that said… I won’t be holding breathe on a Socceroos victory…. Because I’ll probably be screaming at the TV, barracking for the Green & Gold.
It’s been a long time since I publicly tipped on A-League, and am going to try my hand today at this weeks opening round of Season 8.
Despite the coaching changes since last season seeming to suggest this should be a win for the blue side of Melbourne, I’m going to tip with my heart and say the Heart will beat Victory tonight.
Wellington will spoil Del Piero’s welcome to the A-League, but defeating Sydney.
Glory will take out their revenge on the Roar.
Central Coast will be too strong for the Wanderers.
Heskey will impress for Newcastle as they teach Adelaide a thing or two… no mercy will be shown the already depressed Reds, coming off their aggregate loss in their Asian Championship League efforts.
So… they’re my tips for this weekend. If they’re any good, I might do this again.
Eight years ago, following some debate at the time, I did some analysis of the medal tally from the Athens Olympics to determine the greatest sporting nation of the 2004 Olympics. Well, I’ve had some time on my hands during these Olympics (due to my recent knee surgery) and I’ve done the same calculations for the London 2012 Olympics.
Doing some online research, I was able to discover weight ((400g source: http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/)) and composition ((Available at http://www.coinweek.com/bullion-report/olympic-medals-are-still-made-of-precious-metal-but-contain-less-gold/)) of each of the medals at the 2012 Olympics. The breakdown:
- Gold Medal – 5.36g of Au, 370g of Ag, 24.64g of Cu
- Silver Medal – 370g of Ag, 30g of Cu
- Bronze Medal – 388g of Cu, 10g of Zi, 2g of Sn
Then, applying these breakdowns to the market values ((Source http://www.wolframalpha.com/ Date: 5th of August 2012)) of metals on the international market at the time of the Olympics, we’re able to calculate the value of each of the medal. Giving:
- Gold – US$605.89
- Silver – US$329.52
- Bronze – US$2.88
As was the case 8 years ago, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) appears to be the best indicator to a nations success at the Olympics. The correlation between the nations medal haul value and GDP ((0.8196 using Excel’s correlation function)) is much higher than the correlation between medal haul value and population ((0.4678 using Excel’s correlation function)), evident by just looking at the Top 10 of the Official Medal Tally:
|Rank||Nation||Rank (GDP)||Rank (Pop)|
Now it would be possible to manipulate the statistics in numerous ways to get whatever result we desire, as The Age proved already… but we’re really interested in finding out which country was the greatest at the London 2012 Olympics… so as we did in 2004, we look at Value of the medal haul as a percentage of the nation’s GDP, and then we normalise it to that of the USA (USA selected again b/c they once again topped the traditional tally) to come up with the “Better Than USA Factor” (BTUSAF) Tally.
So, here it is, the 2012 Olympic BTUSAF standings:
|BTUSAF Rank||Official Rank||Nation||BTUSAF|
|21||47||Trinidad and Tobago||11.60|
So… once again, the title of best sporting nation at an Olympics (factoring for medal value on the International Metal Exchange and GDP) goes to a Caribbean nation, this time Grenada, thanks to it’s first ever Olympic medal and it’s tiny GDP. Jamaica up to 2nd from 3rd in 2004. Cuba, 1st eight years ago is now down in 10th.
Australia’s showing is a dismal 40th, a far cry from it’s 15th in 2004. This could be put down to the fewer golds this time round, but also a factor is the stronger economy. Guess we can’t have everything.
"GC" – Gold Coast FC's mascot
So the AFL have announced the name and colours of its next expansion team… the “Gold Coast Football Club“.
The biggest surprise is that they’ve opted to not give the club a nickname… largely because they couldn’t get the one they wanted, i.e. “Sharks”.
So, from this, one can only guess that they’re leaving it up to the clubs. and/or leagues, fans to come up with one, and we all know that the fans of opposition teams will not be too kind with what they come up with.
So… my thoughts are, given their location, and their mascot, that everyone should start referring to this new club as the “Gold Coast Budgie Smugglers“.
What do you think? Will it catch on?
Just watched Australia’s opening football match of the 2008 Olympics against Serbia on Channel 7 and have been "inspired" enough by a few things to get me out into the bungalow on a cold, Melbourne, winter night to vent blog about it.
Firstly… Channel 7. The nerve of them to broadcast this on a delay of TWO HOURS. If they didn’t want to do a proper job of broadcasting the games, they shouldn’t have bid for them. I vaguely recall being equally disgusted with their efforts four years ago with their coverage of the Athens Olympics. A sign of the standard we’re to expect of the next two weeks? Let’s hope not. At least the guy commentating the game for Ch7 was okay. Knew the game and made an effort to pronounce the names correctly (got most of them right too). That brings me to my second point.
Secondly… ABC’s radio commentary was of the game was SHOCKING. I listened to about 15 minutes of the match and one of the commentators (David Morrow I think is his name) didn’t know the game and couldn’t pronounce his mothers maiden name if it wasn’t "Smith". He was clearly a rugby commentator as he kept referring to the goal-line as the "by-line"… and on several occasions during the time I was listening, he made negative stereotypical comments about the sport. Made me want to write to the ABC and complain… thought I’d vent here instead.
Finally… the match itself . What can I say about the Olyroos? Uncoordinated, uninspired, unbelievably lucky to come away from this with a 1-1 draw. Their play had "Graham Arnold" stamped all over it… when will the FFA realise that this guy is a dead weight around the neck of the sport for this counrty. Get rid of him already.
One of the guys from Collective Apathy has asked me to post a rant on my site… seems that the Collective Apathy site is still down, denying Shovel of his outlet. So here is his rant, in full and unedited.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: MCG: Fun Exclusion Zone?
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2007 12:25:38 +1100
While retarded monkeys, the daughters of bloated egomaniacs and phone text addicts all chimed in to tell us how to ‘reinvent the game of cricket’ this week, all in the name of somehow restoring its status in Australia, Cricket Australia and the MCC did their very best it seems, to ensure this would not be an easy task by once again employing their “zero tolerance” policy toward cricket fans actually trying to bring some personality back into the stands.
While 2 visiting kiwi’s were ejected for a blatantly obvious joke sign from 7-11 ‘supporting Indians all over the world’, and others were ejected for standing on their seat to celebrate a century by one of Australia’s greatest opening batsmen, several makers of rollercoaster restraint harnesses were rubbing their hands with glee over the potential new contract to install their pull down overhead restraint systems to every seat inside the G.
Unconfirmed reports have been rife that the MCC has been drafting a request for tenders to install the restraint systems usually employed on rides that actually provide non-stop entertainment from the moment you get on. Despite cricket’s obvious lack of ‘non-stop entertainment’, the aging MCC board have apparently unanimously agreed it is the only way to save the purity of the game.
Personally, I’m all for the restraint system, because once the MCC has successfully alienated all potential visitors to “the greatest stadium on earth” (*cough*), and everybody just stays home and streaks across their own living room, they will be forced to make use of these restraint systems by turning the G into one giant “Gravitron”. Just imagine how exciting cricket will be to watch when you are spinning around and around and around. Each level could spin in opposite directions, so on those days when it’s not a sellout, you can mix it up, by moving between levels. Who needs the wave then?
And here’s the icing on the cake. each bay will be repainted black or red with a giant number painted under the seats. The MCC will then run an online betting roulette game. Punters can place bets on what bay the cricket ball will land in for every six hit in the match. Given the popularity of online gambling, this will make the MCC and Cricket Australia a BOMB.
So bring on the restraints i say. “It’s good for cricket!”