Monday, October 31, 2011

Faulty Logic on the Soccer Pitch

Let me explain briefly some logic that may seem superficially appealing, but is in fact catastrophically wrong:
Nobody wants to play goalie on our team. I have good hand-eye co-ordination, but I'm not that accurate at kicking. I'm probably going to be the worst player on the field if I play a normal position, whereas I'm probably at least decent at just catching the ball. I'll give goalie a go.
Yeeeaah. Let's call this 'Shylock logic, circa last Sunday at 11:50am'. At about 12:10pm, after getting scored on multiple times by a team that was clearly better than us, let me enlighten you on just how much you can learn in ten scant minutes about where your thinking went astray.

1. When you're crap at some team endeavour, it is less important to actually be good at something than it is to not be blamed for actively being bad at something in a way that is harming the whole team. Goalie is the worst possible position for this. Every screwup is directly attributable to you and you alone. In addition, there's going to be lots of people that remember your screwups and have it in for you.

2. Being goalie is like writing put options, in that your payoffs have crazy negative skewness. When you stop a ball that you should stop, you get a small amount of praise. But should you miss a ball that you should have been able to stop, you just went broke. You know who should be writing put options? Really highly rated financial institutions with deep pockets and lots of experience. You know who shouldn't? Mum and Pop.

3. You know how you can tell that a team is likely to be crap and full of amateurs? When nobody wants to volunteer to be goalie. You know when is the worst possible time to be goalie? When your defence is crap and full of amateurs. Because that's when you're going to get lots of shots on goal, and when you inevitably let some in, people will still blame you more than the crap defence. Talk about a winner's curse problem.

The only good news of the day was that when I subbed out, the goals kept coming, albiet at a slightly slower rate. I am quite certain I was the only person on our whole team to be significantly pleased by this development.

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