Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

Dubious Domination – Taki’s Magazine – Taki’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on July 11, 2019

So rather than ape the NFL and NBA leagues, women’s sports would be better advised to adopt the barnstorming model of tennis and golf in which all the stars come to your city at once, but only a single time per year.

by Steve Sailer

Why has the American national women’s soccer team won its version of the World Cup four times, while our national men’s team hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals since 1930?

It’s not that the American women are better in an absolute sense than the American men. In 2017, for example, the U.S. women’s team was beaten 5–2 by a team of Dallas boys no older than age 15. But Americans aren’t sophisticated enough soccer fans to notice how much worse the quality of play is in women’s soccer than in men’s soccer.

No, America dominates women’s soccer for the same reason South Korea dominates women’s golf: because nobody else has much cared.

Success in women’s golf is largely a Social Construct of how much fathers want their daughters to win at golf. Right now, Korean dads obsess over that much more than do American or Australian dads.

Women’s golf has been hugely fashionable among Koreans for the past 20 years, so at present 12 of the top 20 ranked women in the world are South Koreans or from the Korean diaspora. Korea now has so many professional women golfers and so few surnames to go around that the No. 7 ranked player in the world is officially known as Jeongeun Lee6, because she is the sixth Korean lady golf pro named Jeongeun Lee.

In contrast, the highest-ranked Korean man is American Kevin Na at No. 32.

Why the difference? Because success in women’s sports is extremely socially constructed. After the part-Asian Tiger Woods’ triumph in 1997 and Se Ri Pak’s victory in the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open, Korean tiger parents fell in love with the idea of molding their children into golf prodigies…

Women’s soccer in America is a bit like women’s golf in South Korea, although its rise was less organic and more bureaucratic. The 1972 Title IX legislation mandated equal treatment of male and female college athletes, even though guys are clearly more sports-crazed. It’s hard to come up with sports that coeds care much about, so soccer has prospered by default as perhaps their least unfavorite team sport…

America’s 9,383 Division I soccer scholarships are an enormous financial investment in women’s soccer, especially considering that the rest of the world doesn’t have college women’s soccer scholarships, or college soccer, or, until recently, women’s soccer.

The American system of training soccer players, boys and girls, via playing numerous 11-on-11 games in the hope of winning a college scholarship and then turning pro at age 22 isn’t terribly effective at creating male world-class soccer stars.

Instead, the proven methods for thriving in the men’s World Cup are the Brazilian—let slum youths kick a soccer ball all day as they play hooky—and the Dutch—enroll the best 7- and 8-year-old boys in an intensive academy owned by a major-league team.

The most famous soccer academy is likely Ajax in Amsterdam, where Johan Cruyff, possibly the most influential player ever, was trained. The modern style of “Total Football” was largely perfected by Ajax about 50 years ago.

Handpicked boys go to school in the morning and train at Ajax in the afternoon for free (unlike the pay-for-play model that keeps soccer highly middle-class in the U.S.). If the Dutch lads become professional-quality, Ajax can sell their contracts for tens of millions.

The Dutch apprentices seldom play 11-on-11 games because games don’t provide them with enough touches of the ball. Instead, to maximize touches, they drill one-on-one constantly under scientific coaching.

The Dutch system chews up and spits out countless boys who aren’t quite good enough, but it does produce great players. The Dutch have made three World Cup finals, despite a population of only 17 million.

American soccer kids, in contrast, play huge numbers of 11-on-11 games, which are fun and healthy (but can wear out joints, especially on girls). But the genteel American style of training leaves their skills rudimentary compared with the drilled Europeans. Moreover, our main goal is a college scholarship, which Europeans find bizarre: A true talent would be playing professionally as a late teen…

Sure, America has more popular indigenous sports that absorb much of our huge population’s talent. But most of our homegrown sports are biased toward the tall, while soccer could be a good fit for the half of the population that is below average in height.

On the other hand, the American system of soccer, with its team spirit and college orientation, is probably better preparation for life for the majority of players who won’t become pros.

Yet the much-criticized American system works fine for training World Cup-winning women, simply because the rest of the world hasn’t cared much about women’s soccer.

For instance, the third-best record in the history of the women’s World Cup, after the U.S. and Germany, belongs to tiny Norway (population 5 million) due to the traditional lack of effort made by men’s soccer superpowers like Italy and Argentina, neither of which have ever made it to the women’s final four…

It’s easy to mock the capsule narratives the networks come up with to hook women viewers—“After her heartbreaking loss four years ago, she put her dream of starting a family on hold for four years to rededicate herself to America winning today. But, just last week, her beloved grandmother died and…” Yet that kind of narrative is, objectively, far more compelling than the monotony of a professional league season.

So rather than ape the NFL and NBA leagues, women’s sports would be better advised to adopt the barnstorming model of tennis and golf in which all the stars come to your city at once, but only a single time per year.

Rather than divvy the national team’s stars out among different cities, keep the U.S. team together and have it tour the country playing every Sunday against a squad of foreign all-stars with some sinister un-American name, such as Team Putin.

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The Problem With Forecasting Outcomes of Complex Human Events: The Goldman Sachs Failure

Posted by M. C. on July 18, 2018

Bloomberg informs:

Goldman Sachs’ statistical model for the World Cup sounded impressive: The investment bank mined data about the teams and individual players, used artificial intelligence to predict the factors that might affect game scores and simulated 1 million possible evolutions of the tournament. The model was updated as the games unfolded, and it was wrong again and again. It certainly didn’t predict the final opposing France and Croatia on Sunday.

The failure to accurately predict the outcome of soccer games is a good opportunity to laugh at the hubris of elite bankers, who use similar complex models for investment decisions…  Read the rest of this entry »

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