Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Deadbeat Reporter On...Penalty Kicks

We've posted several times before, in different ways, about the World Cup. Togo's shambolic run-up to the tournament, Tom Powers' PiPress article that trotted out the ridiculous argument linking "illegals" and World Cup viewership, and also a tie-in with Fareed Zakaria's latest article on global leadership. (Oh, and check out the comments section for a world class circle jerk on the Zakaria piece).
Anyway, after watching the 0-0 snoozer between the Ukraine and Switzerland (which I predicted to myself) degenerate into penalty kicks, it became apparent that at this level penalty kicks are chock-full of randomness. Like an inverted game of playing chicken on the highway, and a less than proper way to decide the winner.

Fortunately, I found an article (Slate of all places) that takes a look at penalty kicks through the lens of Game Theory. A great read, and you won't watch PK's the same way again. [slate] [via deadspin]


xtrachromosomeconservative said...

I love the world cup but the one thing I always find so off putting is the diving. The players are just shameless about it. They flail about on the ground and then shortly jump up as if they were instantly better. A bunch of castrated males if you ask me.

Ilya said...

That Slate article is clear and to the point, but I don't think it will change how most people watch penalty kicks. Haven't we always known that at least half the outcome was in the hands of Lady luck? The only thing new is that now we know how to render luck in formal, mathematical terms.

A Green Cowboy said...

In my league game tonight, I got to take two PK shots.

What the article fails to discuss is the one thing Roberto Baggio (Italy) and I have in common: the worthless, sky-high, accidental chip shot that makes you crumple to your knees (well, in the World Cup it does...it mostly made me laugh in my adult rec league).

I will have you know I did blast the second one in: on the left. My keeper remained frozen in the center of the goal.

Xtra: what really annoys me is how the players go down and grab an ankle, foot, or shin, when the replay usually shows that there is little chance at all of that body part being hurt. Especially when they grab the shin, which is protected by the shinpad...