Any sports fan knows that referees are as human as the rest of us – mistakes do creep in.
However, I recently read this short article citing studies that show ref’s also make more subtle, but systematic mistakes.
Home Crowd Advantage
This article discusses a study of 3500 Bundesliga matches that found measurable bias in favor of the home team:
- Interestingly the bias was more significant when there was no running track around the field – in other words when the fans were closer to the ref.
- Refs were shown footage of tackles with the sound on and the sound off. Those watching with the sound on ruled in favor of the home team 15.5% more often!
The Team in Red
In the past I have read that football teams wearing red win slightly more matches. This article discusses a study of tae kwon do referees found that they favor the fighter in red.
In tae kwon do one fighter has a red helmet and one has a blue helmet.
In the experiment 42 experienced refs were shown videos of sparring rounds.
- The red fighters were awarded on average 13% more points
- The videos were then digitally altered to switch the color of the helmets. Suddenly the points awarded flipped over with the new reds getting a bigger share.
My wife is a super graphic designer and I’ve learned a bit about the industry from her.
I can tell you for sure that she would DIE before publishing this image! It comes from the main page of a News24 website (otherwise quite a cool site).
I can’t believe that this got through to the public. Is it just me or does it look like Luke Watson has donated a lower leg to Natalie du Toit?
For those who don’t know, Natalie du Toit is one of South Africa’s greatest athletes. She lost her leg in an accident as a teenager but has gone on to be an amazingly successful Paralympic and Olympic athlete!
With the Tour de France just over and the Olympics now underway, doping in sports is a topical issue. You don’t often hear the argument for doping, but this article from The Economist argues well that doping shouldn’t be cheating.
Why should doping be cheating? There are two arguments against allowing athletes to enhance their abilities by doping:
- Fairness. Athletes go to all sorts of lengths in the quest for a little extra performance – why is doping any more unfair than some of those measures? Why is doping cheating when complex nutritional compounds are not? Why isn’t the new Speedo swimwear that offers a significant advantage unfair? Modern athletes routinely go to great and unnatural lengths to excel – why should doping be any different?
- Safety. The far more compelling argument against allowing doping is on the grounds of safety. Many think that doping is unsafe and in many cases it may be. Unsafe doping should be banned, but if doping were opened up it could be better regulated. Athletes would be required to list exactly what substances are being used thus making regulation easier – and doping safer.
Doping should be allowed or not based on safeness – and there is a case to be made that opening up doping could make it safer for athletes. Interesting.
Today Australia lost another cricket final when they were beaten by India. That’s pretty pleasing, but what I really enjoyed was a moment when a streaker running past Andrew Symonds was dropped by a deadly shoulder charge.
The force of Symonds’ shoulder sent the man to the ground and security and police swarmed before taking him from the field.
The Aussie cricketers are often extremely annoying but this incident has given me an excuse to like a great player like Symonds. Here is a report from Cricinfo.
Update: I saw this series showing the incident which I liked. The second image is awesome – the guy is flying!