Sunday, August 15, 2010

No Draws = Lotteries?

Long-time readers will no doubt be aware of my on-going interest in all forms of lotteries and (in connection) penalty shoot outs - though not because penalty shoot outs are lotteries as such. In fact, I wrote a chapter on the difference in Soccer & Philosophy, so won't go into that again here. Nonetheless, the gist of my argument was that penalties aren't lotteries - we could simply toss a coin to decide drawn matches, but at least penalties test some relevant skills - but either penalties or lotteries would be an appropriate way to settle a tied contest, the choice between them ultimately resting on what makes for the more entertaining spectacle.

It's interesting to see that Sepp Blatter is apparently considering doing away with draws in the World Cup group stages. Personally, I see no need to do away with draws; it seems a particularly American thing. His reasoning is that defensive teams are encouraged to play for a draw, but I'm unconvinced that introducing the 'lottery' of penalties to resolve the tie will make things any better. This way I'd have thought underdogs (with any confidence in their penalty-taking ability) will have an incentive to play for a draw knowing that they might actually win all of the points!

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