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occ
01-15-2004, 02:46 PM
Here is what I mean:

Basketball games have the highest scores of any professional sport that I can think of. Each "goal" achieved in basketball has a point value awarded of 1, 2, or 3 points. Generally, most goals scored are worth 2 points. Therefore, assume a typical number of points scored in a game: 80, say. 80 points divided by 2 average points per goal equals a rough total of 40 scoring opportunities achieved.

In other sports, such as football (both American and well, the rest of the world's) and baseball, there are fewer scoring opportunities. All of these sports involve the concept of two sides, with each alternating between offense and defense. In basketball, turnovers happen more frequently than in other sports; as more "goals" are scored, and each goal involves a turnover, plus the potential for turnover during normal play, there seem to be more variables.

With that said, is basketball, from a statistical standpoint, a relatively "fairer" game than many other pro sports? That is, if by agreed standards one team is judged better than another, does this team not have better odds of being the winner in a given match?

Duckster
01-15-2004, 03:40 PM
You may find this thread is more attuned to GD or IMHO since the opinion raised may not have a factual answer ...

Last time I checked, basketball has opposing sides, too. Why should it be more fair if transitions from offense to defense and back again are more rapid that football? An intercepted pass is a rapid change, Three outs is a rapid change.

Scoring opportunities? How many attempts at a baskets vs actually made provides scoring opportunities. How many times at bat vs actual hits is a scoring opportunity. How many possessions vs touchdowns is a scoring opportunity, just to make things clear.

BTW, take a look at cricket. I've seen combined team scores great that 500-600 points per match.

Yet at the end of the day, how does one actually rate fairness among sports when the sports themselves, the rules, the action, etc., are so different from each other? Is that fair?

Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party
01-15-2004, 03:41 PM
Basketball games have the highest scores of any professional sport that I can think of. Each "goal" achieved in basketball has a point value awarded of 1, 2, or 3 points.


What about cricket?

World Eater
01-15-2004, 03:45 PM
My first thought was something that has no refs (or umps), like bowling or golf, would be the most accurate way to compare people.

Chronos
01-15-2004, 04:06 PM
Perhaps an example will help make the OP's point clearer. In baseball, when a very good professional team plays a weak professional team, there is still about a one in three chance that the weaker team will win. This is one reason why it's necessary to have a series of seven games for the World Series, rather than a single game, to increase the chance that the best team will win. One might reasonably say that baseball is an "unfair" sport, since there is such a large chance of the better team losing. The OP is then asking if more scoring opportunities would tend to make a game more "fair", by this definition, and if that would imply that basketball is the most "fair" of all games commonly played in the US, since it has the most scoring opportunities.

Mathematically, with all other factors being equal, a greater number of scoring opprotunities will make a game more "fair". But I don't think that all other factors are equal. American football, for instance, typically has about the same number of score events as baseball, but football is definitely fairer than baseball. For that matter, I'm not familiar with the statistics, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that American football is fairer than basketball.

occ
01-15-2004, 04:41 PM
Thanks, Chronos, for clarifying that. Re: the number of points in, say, Cricket, I was not familiar with Cricket scoring -- pardon my US-centric sports catalogue. However, though scores may reach 500-600, how many "goals" are achieved? I was simply dividing the actual score in basketball by the "worth" of each score to get a relative number of "potential scores".

aahala
01-15-2004, 04:57 PM
I can think of an individual pro sport, where the scoring system greatly favors the stronger player - tennis. In order to win a match, you must win by two points within a game, two games in a set or two points in a tie breaker.

This system makes it much more difficult for a slightly weaker player to win a match. You can see this a some very lopsided lifetime records of players that are probably only slightly different in ability.

NoCoolUserName
01-15-2004, 05:10 PM
So, if I understand it correctly, you are asking what professional sports allow random events to affect the outcome the least. Given your example, I suspect you mean "team sports," since professional track sports have very little randomization (although chance exposure to the flu virus, for example, would certainly affect the outcome).

In (American) football, for instance, there's a heck of a lot of chance involved when someone fumbles--who recovers the ball can drastically affect the outcome of the game. In that respect I would guess that football is the least "fair" as we're trying to define it here.

I think you're asking if a plethora of scoring opportunities gives the "better" team an opportunity to even things up when a "chance" event gives the weaker team an "undeserved" score.

Yes? No?

jimmmy
01-15-2004, 06:38 PM
Scoring opportunities and points scored are only one factor to consider in "fairness".

In Basketball, there are only five men on the court while in baseball and American (& non) football put many more on feild. Consequently it is true that a true "team" of men/women are less likely to be overwhelmed by a single fantastic player on an opposing team in these sports than in basketball --- that is fairer to the team, but it is less fair to the individual player.

Likewise it is easier in Basketball to build defenses to limit a single players effectiveness of a single player than it is to do that in football, & soccer (not Baseball). Less fair to the the GREAT ONE. More fair to the team

panamajack
01-15-2004, 06:47 PM
Cricket scoring has a minimum of a 1 run score by running, with 'automatic' 4- and 6-point plays (good explanation here (http://www.dangermouse.net/cricket/runs.html)). Multiple runs can be scored by repeated running (with a limit set by increased risk of being run out). Making a rough analogy to baseball, it's something like getting a point per base (more like 1.5 if you went by distance), with 4 points for a ground-rule double and 6 points for a home run. I think this comparison illustrates the thrust of the question nicely - baseball isn't as offensively 'fair' since you don't get credit for men left on. This is my interpretation of the OP anyways - the score is an accurate reflection of the (offensive) performance of the team.

The high scores in cricket matches come from the extreme length (several days). Since (assuming equal fatigue) a longer game also is more 'fair', with more scoring opportunities, test cricket is probably the most 'fair' sport in this sense.

I think cricket & baseball have mostly 'fair' fatigue (except maybe for pitchers/bowlers). Football (American) has inequal effects of fatigue. There's the differing philosophy on linesmen even at the pro level - a heavy line will do better for most of the game against smaller opponents, but tires out sooner; a smaller, faster line usually can last longer if they survive the first-half pummeling. Basketball has a similar effect, but not as much since it's usually only one or two big players that get tired out (though players commonly fouling out makes a longer game more inequal).

yellowcakesolid
01-15-2004, 10:39 PM
1. I go with golf simply because every intentional swing of the club is factored into the scoring. In basketball, only made baskets are counted. In golf, all intentional swings are counted. This includes good swings, bad swings, and flat-out misses.

2. This is all in theory and taken to the absurd, but baseball has no time limit. Thus, in theory, its possible for a superior team to score an almost infinite number of runs before the final out. Even if the same goofball logic is applied to other sports, eventually, the time limit would cap the score. For example, on every possession, the Clippers get the inbounds pass, take one second to shoot the ball, and make the basket. That would lead to a high-scoring game. Eventually, however, time would run out. If fairness is measured by the largest possible margin of victory, the Red Sox could beat the Yankees by infinity one to zero. Furthermore, if fairness is measured by possible scoring opportunities, and a scoring opportunity in baseball in considered a pitch, a batter can get to a 3-2 count and foul off a limitless number of pitches. If a scoring opportunity is measured by an at bat, a baseball team can have a near-limitless number of at bats.

TitoBenito
01-15-2004, 11:37 PM
Baseball is fairer in the sence that skill is rewarded more than body shape. Most professional basketball players wouldn't be professional if they woke up the next day and found themselves only 5 foot 10. And football players for most positions with a couple of exceptions need to have some kind of thyroid problem. But in baseball speed, power and most of all skill trump body shape.

MikeS
01-15-2004, 11:42 PM
It might be worth noting that the turnover rate in ice hockey is comparable to that in basketball; the only reason the scores aren't as high as in basketball is probably because in hockey, you've got a big padded guy standing right in front of the net. So by the criterion "more scoring opportunities = fairer", hockey is just as fair as basketball.

Urban Ranger
01-15-2004, 11:44 PM
I say snooker is the fairest sport to the individual player.

xash
01-15-2004, 11:51 PM
Moved to GD.

-xash
General Questions Moderator

furt
01-16-2004, 01:11 AM
Are we only thinking in terms of one game/match/whatever?

Certainly professional baseball is extremely "fair" over the course of a 120+ game season ... winning percentages almost invariably end up between .400 and .600, versus a much wider discrepancy in most other sports.

woolly
01-16-2004, 07:24 AM
A bit out of left field, but lawn bowls.

Results are based purely on measurement (to the millimetre if necessary), the involvement by the umpire is neglible (apart from measuring), very simple and direct scoring system, identical playing surface (esp. if indoors), alternative play so neglible chances of weather affecting result, all but zero crowd influence.

Duke
01-16-2004, 09:14 AM
Sounds like you could put curling in the same boat as lawn bowling for a "fair sport."

Cricket, on the other hand, while offering lots of "scoring opportunities," also offers lots of opportunity for "unfairness." The home side can (and often does) have a friendly word with their groundskeeper to prepare a pitch that is more suitable to their bowling attack. And in some cases the coin toss to decide who bats or bowls first can decide the match, especially in day/night one-dayers, where because of ground conditions in some localities it can be darn near impossible to win batting second under the lights.

gouda
01-17-2004, 05:57 AM
I too initially thought of cricket... but, as Duke mentions, there is much scope for 'unfairness' in cricket too. Aside from the said ground conditions and coin toss, you have to factor in the weather too. Many a match has been lost, which would otherwise have been a comfortable victory, simply because it rained (Duckworth-Lewis system).

KellyM
01-17-2004, 12:35 PM
In my experience, I would have to say that professional (that is, NBA) basketball is perhaps one of the least fair of the commonly played sports. The rules are enforced unevenly, with highly favored stars being given more leeway in both foul calls and violations such as traveling. There's also cause to believe that the officials have thrown games during the playoffs (and even during the regular season) in order to increase "fan excitement" and maximize revenue for the league. As a result, the outcome of the game has less to do with the quality of the players and more to do with the financial motivations of those who stage the games.

The game is perhaps less unfair at the college and high school levels, although we're seeing some of the same problems in the college leagues now, too.

The ultimate in a fair sport, in my mind, would have to be chess.

xayoz306
01-18-2004, 04:54 AM
For the OP, in regards to fairness, could parity be applied?

Because if you wanted to equate fairness to parity, then American Football would most likely be the one that demonstrates "fairness" the most. Other sports that demonstrate parity include curling, lawn bowling, and a few others.

In regards to which sport provides equal opportunity to each participating side, whether it be individual or team, to record a victory, it would be baseball. Each team gets an equal number of outs per inning, in an opportunity to score. After one team has used their offensive talents, the other team gets the same number of outs to meet or beat the offensive output of their opponents. Curling and lawn bowling are equal examples of this.

Personally, I think that the NHL, NBA and MLB are the threee sports that lack the most in parity. When you take a look at who usually has the best records in this league, and then look to the payroll compared to the last place team, you will see that the league's are rewarding the teams with the biggest pockets.

occ
01-20-2004, 12:50 PM
In my experience, I would have to say that professional (that is, NBA) basketball is perhaps one of the least fair of the commonly played sports. The rules are enforced unevenly...

This isn't really what I meant by "fair". For the sake of the debate, assume that all calls are accurate and no favoritism is shown. I was merely considering the game as the rules are written; "fairness" meaning that a typical game accurately reflects the prowess of the particular team.

The Flying Dutchman
01-20-2004, 01:19 PM
This isn't really what I meant by "fair". For the sake of the debate, assume that all calls are accurate and no favoritism is shown. I was merely considering the game as the rules are written; "fairness" meaning that a typical game accurately reflects the prowess of the particular team.

Are you saying that it was unfair of the tortoise to beat the hare?

Tapioca Dextrin
01-21-2004, 01:57 PM
If you're looking for a team sport where a single individual has no effect on the result, then look no further that cycling - specifically the team time trial. The teams' times are taken when the fifth rider crosses the line. The fastest team is always the one which stays together for as long as possible.

Here's the report (http://www.letour.fr/2003/us/live.oft?service=RaceServer&RaceType=TDF&RaceYear=2003&StageNumber=400&Language=ANG) from last year's Tour de France.

Green Bean
01-21-2004, 06:53 PM
Are you saying that it was unfair of the tortoise to beat the hare?
I'd say it was perfectly fair. I'd say that strategy is a component of prowess.

Rabid_Squirrel
01-21-2004, 07:15 PM
For individual sports, either snooker or darts. Both are played indoors, all aspects are carefully regulared and the rules leave minimal room for judgement calls by the referees. Another example may be sumo, although some matches can be won or lost by a single risky move.

I really don't think there's any Team sports where chance referee calls, equipment failure or the weather doesn't influence events. One contender may be team indoor bowls, but it could be argued the home team has the advantage of knowing the playing surface.

II Gyan II
01-21-2004, 07:15 PM
In general, a cricket game may turn out to be "unfair" (ex. India-Sri Lanka semi-final 1996 World Cup, Australia-South Africa semi-final 1999 World Cup, both for different reasons.) But, there's a high chance a particular cricket game is "fair" (where you can guess the result halfway through.)

However, I think the question is meaningless for interactive (mostly team) sports like football, basketball and somewhat applicable for sports that involve mainly parallel non-interactive activities like cycling, running and maybe golf (if I understand the game correctly.)

That's because I don't think you can compose a meaningful metric that measures 'skill' of a team. Of course, you can somewhat compare individual qualities like ability to tackle a rising short ball in cricket or ability to return a fast serve in tennis. But there's no way to combine all these quality measures onto a single scale.

El Zagna
01-21-2004, 07:51 PM
I think the OP is closely related to the issue of sample size in clinical studies. If you have a sample of four, then you can't have much confidence in any differences in the control and the test group. If you have a sample of 14 then your confidence increases, with 40 it gets even better, etc.

If basketball only allowed enough time for 4 or 5 scores then you wouldn't have much confidence that the best team would win. Even if the Aardvarks beat beat the Zebras 8 to 4 you wouldn't have much confidence that the Aardvarks would beat the Zebras in a rematch. However if the Aardvarks beat the Zebras 80 to 40 in a longer game with more scoring opportunities then you would have considerable confidence in the results of a rematch.

If that is true then you should be able to test it by comparing rematches between teams in sports with high scoring opportunities like basketball and low scoring opportunities like soccer (football).

I will have to rely on more enthusiastic sports fans than I to gather the data for that study.

amarone
01-21-2004, 11:05 PM
Are we only thinking in terms of one game/match/whatever?

Certainly professional baseball is extremely "fair" over the course of a 120+ game season ... winning percentages almost invariably end up between .400 and .600, versus a much wider discrepancy in most other sports.Baseball is certainly fair over the 162 game regular season, but then they screw it up by allowing losers (aka wild cards) into the playoffs.

As for "fairest", people on these boards have claimed chess to be a sport. If it is, then I would say it is the fairest.