Archive for the ‘statistics’ Category

Defense Wins Championships? Not So Fast, My Friend…

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Tobias J. Moskowitz and L. Jon Wertheim investigate the old football cliche that “defense wins championships” and find that the data does not quite support the legend:

Sifting through the numbers, we found that the answer is again no. In the regular season, playoffs, and championships, underdog teams are no more likely to win if they are good defenders than if they are good scorers…

Bottom line: Defense is no more important than offense. It’s not defense that wins championships. In virtually every sport, you need either a stellar offense or a stellar defense, and having both is even better.

If it’s not true, then why is it such a cliche? Moskowitz and Wertheim have an explanation for that:

If defense is no more critical to winning than offense is, why does everyone from Little League coaches to ESPN analysts extoll its importance? Well, no one needs to talk up the virtues of scoring. No one needs to create incentives for players to score more touchdowns. There’s a reason why fans exhort “De-fense, De-fense!” not “O-ffense, O-ffense!” Offense is fun. Offense is glamorous. Who gets the Nike shoe contracts and the other endorsements — the players who score or the defensive stoppers?

I highly recommend the authors’ book, Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won.


Written by breckfield

January 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

“If They Knew What They Liked, They Wouldn’t Live In Pittsburgh.”

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The Economist‘s so-called Intelligence Unit has released its 2011 Liveability Rankings, which claims that the most “liveable” city in the United States is…


Well, perhaps they’re right. But I can’t help recalling this exchange from Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels:

Aw, what do they know in Pittsburgh.

They know what they like.

If they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh!


Written by breckfield

February 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Why You’re Probably Less Popular Than Your Friends

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Mathematician and bestselling author John Allen Paulos explains why you’re probably less popular than your friends:

Are your friends more popular than you are? There doesn’t seem to be any obvious reason to suppose this is true, but it probably is. We are all more likely to become friends with someone who has a lot of friends than we are to befriend someone with few friends. It’s not that we avoid those with few friends; rather it’s more probable that we will be among a popular person’s friends simply because he or she has a larger number of them.

Read the entire brief article. And if such topics are right up your alley, check out Paulos’ books, especially Innumeracy and A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper.

Written by breckfield

January 22, 2011 at 10:20 am

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