Football: Defective By Design?

In case the title hasn’t already made clear, I’ll do so here explicitly: I hate football. Both the playing part and the watching part. And I am really puzzled as to why football is such a globally followed thing. In all frankness, from the game-theoretic design perspective, cricket is better.

Let me put forth my prime concerns with football. In any game, there are what-are-called “flukes”. An unintended touch of the ball, and it goes in the goal. Or, a very well planned complex move, but at the last moment it hit the pole, and no goal. Even in cricket.. a bad ball hit even badly and the inside edge brought it onto the stumps. Or the tail-enders just flexing the arm: it’s a six!

Flukes are part of the game, nobody can change that. However in football, flukes are far more likely to change the eventual result of the game than in, say, cricket. In cricket, a random six off the last man matters in maybe only 2% games. A lucky wicket could matter more, maybe. But in football, where results are of the order of 1-nil, 4-2, and hardly any game has more than 4 goals, a fluke causing or not causing a goal is a very important event for the course of the game.

Another design flaw in football: Why would I want to go and watch football? Sure, for the expert analyst, all those failed goal attempts in football are intriguing. But for the random guy, he just wants to scream when something happens. And a 90 minute game, typically having 2-3 goals, say implies that there are just 2-3 dramatic moments where I get to scream the hell out. Compare to cricket, where every single four or a six or a wicket offers me a chance to celebrate.

So, somehow, I feel that cricket is better designed both from the game-theory perspective as well as popularity perspective. Then, why is it not as religiously followed around the world as football?

I think the answer may be simply that people also don’t have time for day-long matches. That is where ODI cricket fails. But cricket learns, and creates 20-20.

(Meta: I’ll keep reminding for a few days, till it becomes a habit. Rate this post!)

7 responses to “Football: Defective By Design?

  1. Seriously? That’s your argument? Ok, so you probably hate the watching part, because you like to scream a lot. But have you ever played?

    I was really expecting some infallible arguments, but this reminds me of your evil desire to cover the pavement with certain sliced unholy things 😀

  2. Ohh comon! You gotta be kidding me! FYI its not just the 2-3 goals that make football more exciting, but the overall game play is what makes football more beautiful and exciting. Players dribbling past defenders, last minute tackles, free-kicks, even the most simple passing game is more worth watching than the passive predictable game of cricket.

    And you are talking about football having flukes. That is exactly what makes football unpredictable and keeps people up on their toes. Who would like to watch a cricket match whose outcome is known most of the times? (Please don’t give me this Cricket World Cup as example). Luck has to be a part of everything. It does affect football, but not to the extent to which you are speaking.

    You should really play and watch football more closely before coming up with such an argument. 90 minutes of pure adrenaline packed action is any day better than 4 or 8 hours of cricket!

  3. Tch tch, I can use the same argument against cricket. In a match, if I scream at every boundary, I shall probably cry myself hoarse. So, I do not scream at all in cricket, hence, I find the game extremely boring.

    Are you just trying to boost the viewer base of your blog by introducing some controversies?

  4. @all.. well, the reason I hate the playing part of football is that in general, I hate the playing part of any outdoor game.. I am inherently a lazy chap; you all know me well enough to know that as well.

    @sahil: accepted.

    @skand.. there are no controversies here: The whole world uniformly disagrees with me, apparently!

  5. @Prashant – the reason why football is more popular is simple. It’s more widely played, and hence watched and followed more than cricket. The reason for which is as simple – active player participation from all players. No matter how short you make a cricket match, it can’t equal the intensity of a football game. As for the game theory part, can’t really claim to know much about it, but your arguments don’t sound very convincing either. But it is pointless to say anything unless a quantitative analysis is done.

  6. Football isn’t defective by design.It requires more concentration and stamina on the players’ side.One of the main things is to prevent the ‘flukes’ from not benefiting you.Think of how much more that brings to the game.
    For the random guy ? Yeah,he might like cricket more,thats fine.Football’s for the discerning viewer.Its not meant for random people who just wanna scream.Football,if capable of speech,would probably say sod off to the random guy who just wants to scream 😀

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