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!)