A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Posts Tagged ‘United States

March Madness as a Playoff System

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Candy

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I’ve previously analyzed the playoff systems of the 4 major professional sports leagues in the US, looking at fairness, which I’ve defined as follows:

Ideal fairness means that we get rid of the unevenness of the regular season schedule without adding too much randomness.  If you’ve got a variety of divisions or conferences that hardly play against each other, the idea that you can have a single champion without a playoff tournament of some sort is absurd – but of course playoffs in some sense always mean throwing out a larger sample size for a smaller one, which never entirely good.

We’re in March Madness season so it’s worth considering college basketball’s playoff system, arguably the most successful in terms of financial gains relative to regular season. This happens to be a particularly good season to consider this because all of the favorites are gone. Every team left has at least 8 losses, which either indicates a stunning amount of parity, or a ridiculous amount of luck.

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Narrative Shifts of 2010

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The next few posts are going to be me looking back at what I consider the biggest narrative shifts of 2010.  If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase ‘narrative shift’, it’s a meme that essentially means a change to the narrative, which is a short explanation for what happened and why it happened.

Narratives can be very powerful.  Barack Obama would not be our president today if not for the incredible power of his narrative as well as the great skill with which he wielded it.  In Hollywood, a bad narrative can kill a reputation (yes, Mel Gibson really is a racist) or keep a mediocre talent in work (poor Jennifer Aniston just wants to be loved).

Because of the clear closure we get after the completion of a competition in sports, I would argue that sports are actually the best topic on which to study the narrative shift.  With the end of the year upon us, now’s a good time to reflect.

Written by Matt Johnson

December 30, 2010 at 8:27 pm