So, what’s the next big thing?

I’m not a fan of pro sports, and this article in The Boston Globe by baseball stats master Bill James says not one word about college football, but it’s nonetheless one of the most thought provoking pieces I’ve read in a while.

James ponders a question I don’t think I’ve seen anyone address when he writes

In sports, mathematical analysis is old news as applied to baseball, basketball, and football. Statistical research of player performances has now been routinely applied to improve the results of individual teams. But it has not yet been applied to leagues. This unexplored area holds great promise for sports, and sports fans. Rather than beginning with the question “How does a team win?” – the query that has been the basis of all sports research to this point – what if we begin by asking “How does a league succeed?”

What he wants to explore with that question is how to find a proper balance between the relevancy of its regular season and the excitement of its postseason.

… In every sport, there is an element of predetermination and an element of randomness in the outcomes. Who will win the championship next year is not entirely a crapshoot…

… If the best team always wins, then the sequence of events leading to victory is meaningless…

…  On the other foot, no league could thrive, either, if every team had the same chance to win…

Take a look – it’s not a long article, but it will make you think.

(h/t The Wages of Wins

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