Soccer`s Advantage
June 14, 2010, 03:01 AM
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The U.S. tied England 1-1 in the World Cup despite England by all accounts being obviously better. (The English goalie muffed an easy save.)

Why?

The low-scoring in soccer means the outcomes of individual games have a high degree of randomness, which makes soccer great for betting on.

I`ve always wanted soccer to have more 3-2 games, like England over Cameroon in the 1990 Word Cup quarterfinals. Everybody always talks about how fun that game was, so why not reform soccer so there are more 3-2 games?

I think part of the answer to my question is that if scoring were made easier (e.g., by enlarging the goal), while there would be more 3-2 games, there would also be more 4-1 and 5-0 games, and those would get boring about halfway through.

Worse, the better team would win more of the time than now, so betting would become more of a science and less of a crap shoot. And what`s the fun in that?

Moreover, while the World Cup always starts out seemingly random, it always ends up with one of soccer`s Great Powers winning the whole thing. New Zealand or Slovenia or America or North Korea isn`t going to win the World Cup and embarrass the whole sport. The most obscure country to win the World Cup since Uruguay in 1950 is Argentina, which is pretty famous. The other winners over that time have been Brazil, Germany, Italy, England, and France.

So, you`ve got to give the FIFA boys some credit for balancing randomness and respectability nicely.