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  #51  
Old 05-21-2020, 07:19 PM
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I started a thread about NFL kickers a while back, and I think that a small gap in the abilities of the best and a decent amateur is part of the reason kickers are the least valuable member of a team. For any position I can think of in the NFL, there are scenarios where I can see someone from that position being the #1 pick, except for kicker and punter. If Joe Thomad, Deion Sanders, Charles Haley, or Lawrence Taylor are available in an otherwise average draft class, then a lineman or cornerback or linebacker could be the first pick. The reason is because those guys were notably better than even the second and third best players at the position when they were in their primes. With kickers an NFL team could probably get away with playing the back up kicker from
Northwest New Mexico Tech and not have too much of a drop in performance.
No. For several reasons.

First, kickers are at average compensation compared to many other positions. Spotrac (a great place for looking up contract details for several professional sports), lists kickers with an average salary of 1.9 million or so, which compares well to other positions not QB, LT, or Edge rusher. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/positional/ Those positions are also the ones that command high draft picks, but it doesn't mean NFL teams ignore kicking.

A decent kicker is worth a couple of yards on field position versus a replacement kicker, and NFL head coaches will murder kittens in their sleep to get that kind of advantage. I haven't looked, but since the move to a longer XP, kickers that automatically convert those are much more valuable than those for which it's been a crap shoot. Kickers that can stretch the field, i.e. have a greater than average chance of converting long field goals, are also very valuable. Maybe not as valuable as the Raiders infamously thought when they drafted Janikowski in the first round, but valuable over an average guy nonetheless.

What kickers usually aren't, and what I think you mean by your post, is consistent. An O.K. kicker can have a great year, but it often doesn't guarantee a subsequent great year. And so teams will find that if you don't have a Gostkowski or a Justin Tucker, it's not much of a dropoff to dump their kicker when they hit a slump, and just go grab a retread. I.e., giant (for a kicker) multi-year deals may not be smart.

But kicking is of great importance in the NFL. Those that do it, and thrive at the highest level, tend to stay. Albeit with several different teams.
  #52  
Old 05-21-2020, 10:12 PM
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Same with running. Go to a local track and run a 200 in 35 sec/400 in 70 sec. Congratulations. You're running slower than marathon world record pace.
I came in to this thread to nominate distance running as one of the sports with the least disparity between the elite and the average athlete. Unlike gymnastics or baseball or golf, running does not require complex skills that take years to master. Save for probably having a more efficient stride, Des Linden is doing the very same thing that I am, out on the roads; she's just doing it faster and longer. I've run with a professional ultramarathoner with a top-ten finish at Western States; the only noticeable difference was that she wasn't out of breath at the top of climbs that had the rest of us gasping.

If you're only 5'3, you're not going to play in the NBA, outliers like Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb notwithstanding. And it helps to have a high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers if you want to be a sprinter. But the only real difference between an elite marathoner and a weekend hobby jogger is the former's willingness to endure the hard workouts, to do the anaerobic intervals, to grind out the miles on a long run, to go deep into the pain cave. Excellence in this sport is primarily a matter of will.

Cite? The 2018 Boston Marathon. The men's race was won by a civil servant in the Japanese postal service, while the runner up in the women's race was a nurse anesthetist from Arizona who trained in the mornings before work. Granted, that was an unusual year, as the rain and cold temperatures made many elites elect to drop out. But Sarah Sellers, the nurse who finished second, later ran a 2:31:49 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which earned her a spot in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. So her Boston result wasn't a fluke.
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  #53  
Old 05-21-2020, 10:13 PM
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An absolutely killer season for a kicker is like an 8 in approximate value. The average AV for the 32 kickers with the most FG attempts last year was like 2.7. Justin Tucker has average 5.1 over his career.

Tom Brady averages 15.55 over his career and the league average for staring QBs was 11.75 last year. Lamar Jackson was 25 last year.

The value over replacement for a great QB (3.8) and a great kicker (2.4) are a lot closer than I though it would be. However a great season for a QB is way way better than an average season and a great season for a kicker is nice, but not changing your season.
  #54  
Old 05-21-2020, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Slow Moving Vehicle View Post
I came in to this thread to nominate distance running as one of the sports with the least disparity between the elite and the average athlete. Unlike gymnastics or baseball or golf, running does not require complex skills that take years to master. Save for probably having a more efficient stride, Des Linden is doing the very same thing that I am, out on the roads; she's just doing it faster and longer. I've run with a professional ultramarathoner with a top-ten finish at Western States; the only noticeable difference was that she wasn't out of breath at the top of climbs that had the rest of us gasping.

If you're only 5'3, you're not going to play in the NBA, outliers like Muggsy Bogues and Spud Webb notwithstanding. And it helps to have a high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers if you want to be a sprinter. But the only real difference between an elite marathoner and a weekend hobby jogger is the former's willingness to endure the hard workouts, to do the anaerobic intervals, to grind out the miles on a long run, to go deep into the pain cave. Excellence in this sport is primarily a matter of will.

Cite? The 2018 Boston Marathon. The men's race was won by a civil servant in the Japanese postal service, while the runner up in the women's race was a nurse anesthetist from Arizona who trained in the mornings before work. Granted, that was an unusual year, as the rain and cold temperatures made many elites elect to drop out. But Sarah Sellers, the nurse who finished second, later ran a 2:31:49 at the 2019 Chicago Marathon, which earned her a spot in the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials. So her Boston result wasn't a fluke.
Wait, so the people that won the Boston marathon are your average athletes? Sarah Sellers (I had to look this up, I'm not into running) was a 9 time long distance conference champ in college. Not a big school, but comparing her to last year's championship times she would have finished 7th in division 1. The reason she's a nurse is probably because top 10 long distance runners don't get $30M contracts from the Packers, not because she's not way way way better than average.
  #55  
Old 05-22-2020, 12:30 AM
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Wait, so the people that won the Boston marathon are your average athletes? Sarah Sellers (I had to look this up, I'm not into running) was a 9 time long distance conference champ in college. Not a big school, but comparing her to last year's championship times she would have finished 7th in division 1. The reason she's a nurse is probably because top 10 long distance runners don't get $30M contracts from the Packers, not because she's not way way way better than average.
No, Sarah Sellers and Yuki Kawauchi (the men's winner) are not average athletes. Not at all. But my point was that they both made themselves elites by putting in the work, work they were able to do while also holding down full-time jobs. I'm not by any means saying that becoming a top-tier distance runner is easy, or doesn't require discipline, endurance, and the willingness to suffer; I'm saying that, in my opinion, those are almost the only things that are required. You don't have to have incredible hand-eye coordination to be a great runner, or be 6'8, or have a 40" vertical jump; you don't need a set of golf clubs, or a race car, or an ice rink. You just have to have the will to excel. Becoming the next Eliud Kipchoge or Emma Coburn is hard to do, but the path from "average" to "elite" is far more straightforward in running than in just about any other sport I can imagine. Or so it seems to me.
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  #56  
Old 05-22-2020, 03:01 AM
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An interesting way of quantifying this might be via ELO. A 100 point ELO difference is meant to represent the higher ELO player winning 64% of the time.

Comparing an average layperson directly against a world class competitor is not likely to yield illuminating information but we can instead ask, for a world class player, what type of person would they win against 64% of the time, and for that person, what type of person would they win against 64% of the time and so on until you reach the average layperson. The number of links in that chain would be a good proxy for the "disparity" in skill.

If 64% is too fine a gradation to evaluate against, a 200 point ELO difference is a win % of 76% so you could instead look at matchups that one person wins roughly 3 out of 4 times.
I think this is the only way to get a quantifiable answer. For chess, the best player in the world has an official rating of around 2,800. This means there is a maximum of 14 steps between the best player and the worst (a rating of 0), in terms of the better player beating the worse player ~75% of the time. At the opposite end of the spectrum you have something like tic-tac-toe, where there are maybe 3 similar levels (you know the best strategy all the time; you know the rules but will sometimes lose to best strategy; you don't know the rules so play randomly). So (duh) chess is harder/has more layers of complexity than tic-tac-toe.

For sports that have both physical and tactical elements (e.g. golf, snooker, darts, croquet - let's not rehash the debate here about whether these are or are not sports), the physical/skill element will tend to win out over tactics. In other words, it doesn't matter how good you are at choosing the right shot, you'll still lose to the person who knows nothing of that but is better at making the shots. As a result, in some ways it becomes harder for the worse player to win, but in other ways it becomes easier (the better player is more likely to have an off-day). Taking soccer as an example, teams in the English Premier League will probably hit the 75% winning mark against teams from two divisions below them (what is currently known as "League One"). This pattern probably continues in a similar fashion all the way down the English football pyramid, which consists of 15-20 levels. This gives about 10 steps between bottom and top, but you could maybe add another couple for playing football against those who don't compete in an organised league at all. Overall, probably slightly fewer steps than chess. But a lot of that is going to be about physical fitness, as others have said, and the OP seemed to want to exclude that.

Anything that is almost purely physical, like running, is going to have even more layers - take the marathon world record holder, they are going to beat anyone with a marathon PB of (say) 2:15 at least 75% of the time. In turn, that 2:15 PB is going to beat a 2:30 PB a similar amount of time, and so on. People compete in marathons taking anything up to 8 hours to complete them. Does that mean there are more levels to running? I think the comparison sort of breaks down at that point.

Perhaps the only real answer to the OP is that the reason we have professional sports is because of the great disparity between what they can achieve and what an amateur/layman can do. There is no professional World Tic-Tac-Toe Championship because there is no point. Whereas in professional sports, we can be entertained by watching heroes doing what we cannot.

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(sorry - missed the more recent chess posts - catching up now)

An earlier poster mentioned chess. An amateur with a little bit of experience COULD beat a grandmaster in one game (as above - a total fluke)
Sorry, but as Chronos has said, this is just false. There are no flukes in chess, all the information is on the board, and the grandmaster is going to be better at dealing with that information, 100% of the time. The amateur cannot even hope to surprise the grandmaster with a novelty, because either the GM will already know about it, or even if not, will know how to defeat it easily.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:49 AM
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Archery is not easy , I am learning now. Back in 1997 Geena Davis got interested in archery and trained for a while and tried out for the 2000 US archery olympic team. She came in 24th which is impressive for someone so new to the sport.
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:39 AM
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I think this is the only way to get a quantifiable answer. For chess, the best player in the world has an official rating of around 2,800. This means there is a maximum of 14 steps between the best player and the worst (a rating of 0), in terms of the better player beating the worse player ~75% of the time. At the opposite end of the spectrum you have something like tic-tac-toe, where there are maybe 3 similar levels (you know the best strategy all the time; you know the rules but will sometimes lose to best strategy; you don't know the rules so play randomly). So (duh) chess is harder/has more layers of complexity than tic-tac-toe.

For sports that have both physical and tactical elements (e.g. golf, snooker, darts, croquet - let's not rehash the debate here about whether these are or are not sports), the physical/skill element will tend to win out over tactics. In other words, it doesn't matter how good you are at choosing the right shot, you'll still lose to the person who knows nothing of that but is better at making the shots. As a result, in some ways it becomes harder for the worse player to win, but in other ways it becomes easier (the better player is more likely to have an off-day). Taking soccer as an example, teams in the English Premier League will probably hit the 75% winning mark against teams from two divisions below them (what is currently known as "League One"). This pattern probably continues in a similar fashion all the way down the English football pyramid, which consists of 15-20 levels. This gives about 10 steps between bottom and top, but you could maybe add another couple for playing football against those who don't compete in an organised league at all. Overall, probably slightly fewer steps than chess. But a lot of that is going to be about physical fitness, as others have said, and the OP seemed to want to exclude that.
Liverpool and Man City win 75% of the time against the rest of the EPL. You don't even need to leave the top flight, let alone go to League 1.

You're also positing that the bottom of the pyramid for soccer is equivalent to a 0 ELO in chess? I'm not super familiar with the regional leagues, but I imagine those players generally have approached it in a formal way at some point, equivalent to someone that maybe hung out with their high school chess club but wasn't great. Probably more like 1000 ELO equivalent.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:59 AM
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Liverpool and Man City win 75% of the time against the rest of the EPL. You don't even need to leave the top flight, let alone go to League 1.

You're also positing that the bottom of the pyramid for soccer is equivalent to a 0 ELO in chess? I'm not super familiar with the regional leagues, but I imagine those players generally have approached it in a formal way at some point, equivalent to someone that maybe hung out with their high school chess club but wasn't great. Probably more like 1000 ELO equivalent.
Yes, fair points - I was basing my initial evaluation on my estimation of how often a 'cup upset' would occur, i.e. a team from a lower division beating one from a higher division in an FA Cup match. But what I'd failed to take into account there is the fact that top teams will usually rest their best players for such matches, which will skew the results. So yes, you're right.

I also agree with you on your second point, though I had accounted for that in my earlier post. I guess 0 for both would be to take a healthy, intelligent adult and teach them the rules for both games, then set them off playing. I've actually kind of seen this happen in real life for football (soccer) - I played for a kids' team from the age of 7 or so, as did a few of my friends. From around age 11 it became common to have a game of football during school lunchbreak. Often, other friends who had previously shown no particular interest in football would join in, and they were still able to compete at a level whereby it was still worth having them on your side rather than not, even if they mostly likely to just get in the way. So there aren't many levels between me (someone who has played at, and only at, the very bottom rung of the league pyramid) and someone who has had no coaching at all.
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Old 05-22-2020, 11:40 AM
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I also agree with you on your second point, though I had accounted for that in my earlier post. I guess 0 for both would be to take a healthy, intelligent adult and teach them the rules for both games, then set them off playing. I've actually kind of seen this happen in real life for football (soccer) - I played for a kids' team from the age of 7 or so, as did a few of my friends. From around age 11 it became common to have a game of football during school lunchbreak. Often, other friends who had previously shown no particular interest in football would join in, and they were still able to compete at a level whereby it was still worth having them on your side rather than not, even if they mostly likely to just get in the way. So there aren't many levels between me (someone who has played at, and only at, the very bottom rung of the league pyramid) and someone who has had no coaching at all.
Hmm, interesting. I wonder how much of this is down to different sporting cultures. I'm in the US. I played through high school and with a decent club team. Pretty recently a coworker asked me to join his recreational team. There are probably 6 people on the team where it's just a complete waste to try to involve them in any play. Passing to them results in a loss of possession almost immediately on almost all occasions. The only help is to provide an extra person for the other team to dribble around when on defense. Maybe the baseline for soccer skills in the UK is just way higher.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:25 PM
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I think this is the only way to get a quantifiable answer. For chess, the best player in the world has an official rating of around 2,800. This means there is a maximum of 14 steps between the best player and the worst (a rating of 0)
There are no 0 ELO players and there's nothing special about 0 on the ELO scale. I believe 800 is the minimum ELO score you're given as a newly competitive chess player.
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:47 PM
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ELO doesn't have any inherent zero point (you could shift the whole scale up or down by any constant, and it would still work the same way), but it would still make sense to set the scale such that a 0 is someone who just barely knows how to move the pieces, since that's a mark of the minimum possible level of skill. And ELO scores aren't routinely calculated for people that low (anyone who cares enough to enter a context where it would be calculated is well above that level), but surely there have been extrapolations of what such a newbie's ELO would be.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Snarky_Kong View Post
Hmm, interesting. I wonder how much of this is down to different sporting cultures. I'm in the US. I played through high school and with a decent club team. Pretty recently a coworker asked me to join his recreational team. There are probably 6 people on the team where it's just a complete waste to try to involve them in any play. Passing to them results in a loss of possession almost immediately on almost all occasions. The only help is to provide an extra person for the other team to dribble around when on defense. Maybe the baseline for soccer skills in the UK is just way higher.
No, I'd say we're talking about exactly the same level of player, just describing them in different ways (and from different vantage points - if you played for a decent club team, you're already a couple of levels above me). I'm saying that I myself am only 1 or 2 levels above such a player.

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There are no 0 ELO players and there's nothing special about 0 on the ELO scale. I believe 800 is the minimum ELO score you're given as a newly competitive chess player.
I realise that and didn't intend to imply otherwise, I was simply positing 0 as a theoretical minimum Elo rating for the purpose of this thread.

Trivial footnote: the Elo rating system was invented by Arpad Elo and thus it's not necessary to make all the letters capital - even though it looks like its an acronym, it's not.
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Old 05-22-2020, 06:18 PM
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Road and Track article from 2019, about journalist Sam Smith's experience taking hot laps in the 2007 McLaren F1 car that Felipe Alonso used to drive so well: https://www.roadandtrack.com/car-cul...rmula-one-car/ Neat article.
I don't doubt that I wouldn't be able to manage a single lap but that article does say:-

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It’s funny how the brain can trick you into believing the improbable. As I climbed from the cockpit, the McLaren’s abilities felt reachable, just around the corner, even though they were clearly not. Wide-eyed, I mentioned that to one of the mechanics. He tilted his head and thought for a moment. With enough test time and data, he said, and a low-g track, a competent amateur driver could manage laps near race pace. He had seen people pull it off.
  #65  
Old 05-22-2020, 06:23 PM
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Luge.

Correct. It's probably the only Olympic sport you could do while you were dead.

Last edited by Wallaby; 05-22-2020 at 06:25 PM.
  #66  
Old 05-23-2020, 04:02 AM
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An earlier poster mentioned chess. An amateur with a little bit of experience COULD beat a grandmaster in one game (as above - a total fluke) - but in a longer series
(100? 1000? games) would not win another game.
Your first problem is finding games where an amateur actually plays a grandmaster. Grandmasters earn their money in top-class tournaments, where only strong players are allowed to enter (or get invited.)
You are welcome to search chess databases for the biggest difference in rating when a grandmaster loses. (Then again, you have to decide whether an amateur would even have a chess rating.)

I've played national championships and international chess tournaments for over 35 years (my rating was between 2250 and 2390 .) I estimate I've played over 50 grandmasters - and never won a single game.
And even at my standard, I would be completely confident of never losing to an amateur.

As Chronos and Dead Cat have already remarked, there are no flukes in chess.

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Of course - in chess (especially online chess) there are different time controls - one of the most popular being "bullet" in which each player has one minute to complete all their moves. In the case - an amateur's chance of victory might be slightly higher.
Bullet chess is a bit risky - why even a sneezing fit could make you run out of time.
However it is astonishing to see how fast Grandmasters can play with their experience and knowledge of patterns.
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:20 AM
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While it's theoretically possible for a novice to beat a grandmaster in chess (a possibility I've alluded to myself, in other threads), the odds of it are beyond astronomical. The most likely scenario under which it would happen would be if the grandmaster suddenly fell unconscious for some medical reason, and his time ran out.
Honestly, that doesn't count as beating the poor fellow!

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Now, what you could have is a person who's studied the basics of opening theory, but who's still unskilled enough overall to still qualify as a novice. Such a player might plausibly make it through the first eight or ten moves of the game in decent shape, and then deteriorate only relatively slowly, so as to avoid a quick mate. And then still lose eventually.
I think you underestimate how much opening theory there is.
I remember preparing to play a grandmaster and discovering that he played four major openings (all to a deep level.)

To understand (NOT learn by heart) just one opening to a depth of 8-10 moves is pretty hard.
Understanding several is way beyond what any novice could be expected to do.

Also I've played many grandmasters and believe me your position can deteriorate pretty quickly...
My one game v Gary Kasparov started pretty well. After 12 moves each, I had a position I'd played before (and felt confident about how to play the middle-game.)
9 moves later, we actually repeated the position twice (so clearly I was still in with a chance.)
15 moves later he had a winning attack.
Now you may not consider this a 'rapid deterioration'. But bear in mind that a) I was rated 2375 at the time (way above a novice) and b) it was a simultaneous display!
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Old 05-23-2020, 05:25 AM
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As Shalmanese points out, comparing ELO ratings is a good way to proceed. Taking a 300-point ELO differential as the unit, the best human Go player is very likely (but not quite certain) to beat an amateur 7 dan; who has the same advantage over an amateur 4 dan; similarly over 1 dan; over 3 kyu; over 6 kyu; over 9 kyu; over 12 kyu; over 15 kyu. Most novices will be 15 kyu or worse — So figure 8+ levels between a novice and the world champion.

The same exercise in Chess (with 300-pt ELO spreads) would yield something like,
World Champion; Grandmaster; Candidate Master; A; B-; D; Novice — just 6 levels. But it may be hard to compare Chess (many games are drawn) and Go (no draws).

In Chess, when the lovely Master Anna Rudolf defeated a Grandmaster (and some other top players) to become International Master at Vandoeuvre in 2007, this was such a surprise that she was (falsely!) accused of hiding a computer in her lip stick!
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Old 05-23-2020, 08:27 AM
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Sigh. Do we really have to go over this again? Anna Rudolf's appearance is completely unrelated to her chess ability.

And there are flukes in chess, or it'd never be possible for any weaker player to ever beat any stronger player. Upsets do happen. There just aren't any flukes big enough to allow a novice to beat a grandmaster.
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Old 05-24-2020, 08:17 PM
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Until notfrommensa and TonySinclair show up...I'll try.

The average lay person, never having touched a golf club before, isn't going to be able to get the ball up. There's a minimum level of skill to hit a golf ball, even with something like a pitching wedge.

Assuming they have that level of skill, and assuming all of the rules of golf are followed, my guess is that most people play about quadruple bogey golf. I.e., if par is 4, they'll shoot an 8. Difficult holes, ones with forced carries over obstacles, severe obstacles by the hole (water, out of bounds), can make that number skyrocket. To infinity, I guess, if the golfer simply can't make a 240-ish yard forced carry over an obstacle.

But a garden variety, 360 yd par 4 from the whites? Shoot, 3 or 4 pitching wedges, and you're on the green. Three or four putts, and you're in, and on to the next hole. No need for 30 shots.
Thanks for the plug. I agree with just about everything you said in principle, but I think quad bogey is a little high. Anybody who can get the ball up at all, and plays within his abilities (e.g., not trying to cut off doglegs, or make long shots over water), should be able to shoot around 125 on an average course, which is about a triple bogey per hole. If there were no forced carries, he wouldn't even need to get the ball up to do that.

An average guy who gets good instruction and puts in quality practice time should be able to break 100, which is less than double bogey per hole. What's great about golf is that even someone at that level can occasionally hit a shot that a pro would envy. If you watched the Tiger-Phil-Brady-Manning match today, you saw Tom Brady, by far the worst golfer of the four, hit the best shot of the day, holing out from over 100 yards.

On the other end of the scale, I agree with men's gymnastics. Maybe people can do a cartwheel, but I doubt one person in a thousand could do anything on the rings or horse that would get them a tenth of a point from an Olympic judge. It is way, way harder than they make it look.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by TonySinclair View Post
Thanks for the plug. I agree with just about everything you said in principle, but I think quad bogey is a little high. Anybody who can get the ball up at all, and plays within his abilities (e.g., not trying to cut off doglegs, or make long shots over water), should be able to shoot around 125 on an average course, which is about a triple bogey per hole. If there were no forced carries, he wouldn't even need to get the ball up to do that.

An average guy who gets good instruction and puts in quality practice time should be able to break 100, which is less than double bogey per hole. What's great about golf is that even someone at that level can occasionally hit a shot that a pro would envy. If you watched the Tiger-Phil-Brady-Manning match today, you saw Tom Brady, by far the worst golfer of the four, hit the best shot of the day, holing out from over 100 yards...
I agree, but I was more commenting on the average golfer's score skyrocketing if they had to play like a pro, with strict adherence to every rule of golf. So, no picking up and calling it good, no dropping near the line and adding a stroke instead of having to walk all the way back to the tee if you get to your ball and find it's OB, actually having to line up a fourth putt if they had to: all of the things most recreational golfers do in order to speed the game up.

Those shots where you hit it perfectly are a pretty good feeling. And nearly everyone gets at least one in a round. Similar reinforcement as how a slot machine works.

Totally agree on gymnastics. A newbie is going to get themselves hurt on a vault horse. Shoot, just swinging on something like a high bar hurts my hands. I know they've got that glove with a dowel in it, but still, I'd think their hand calluses must be something to behold.

Last edited by Gray Ghost; 05-25-2020 at 08:29 AM.
  #72  
Old 05-25-2020, 09:36 AM
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For a sport with very high disparity, I'll nominate mine: sailplane racing. (A racing sailplane looks like this.)

This is typically arranged as a race (scored on achieved speed) around a course that might be 150 km on a dodgy weather day, and 500+ km on a really good day, with winning speeds typically in the range of 80 to 140 kph.

Even among glider pilots, those who could hope to even occasionally complete such tasks are unusual. An average layman could not realistically hope to get the glider into the air and back on the ground safely - and would frequently not survive the attempt.
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:45 AM
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My one game v Gary Kasparov started pretty well. After 12 moves each, I had a position I'd played before (and felt confident about how to play the middle-game.)
9 moves later, we actually repeated the position twice (so clearly I was still in with a chance.)
15 moves later he had a winning attack.
Now you may not consider this a 'rapid deterioration'. But bear in mind that a) I was rated 2375 at the time (way above a novice) and b) it was a simultaneous display!
That has to be quite an experience - playing well against one of the greatest ever. (But I think you have misspelled his first name.)
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Old 05-25-2020, 09:57 AM
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Correct. It's probably the only Olympic sport you could do while you were dead.
Are both of you implying luge has the least disparity? I beg to disagree. Olympic luge racing may look deceptively simple but it sure ain't your daddy's snow sledding. If you put a reasonably fit average person at the top of an Olympic track, they might be able to make it to the finish line with very conservative sliding lines and lots of braking (although my bet is on crashing and suffering bodily harm in some form) but their time would be a mile off competitive standards. Heck, even national team level lugers sometimes lose five seconds over a 40 second run by making a single mistake in the wrong place and losing much of their speed. As for being dead, that is a distinct possibility every time you are moving at 80mph with little protective gear other than a helmet, while barely glancing at what awaits ahead.
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Old 05-25-2020, 10:31 AM
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Are both of you implying luge has the least disparity? I beg to disagree. Olympic luge racing may look deceptively simple but it sure ain't your daddy's snow sledding. If you put a reasonably fit average person at the top of an Olympic track, they might be able to make it to the finish line with very conservative sliding lines and lots of braking (although my bet is on crashing and suffering bodily harm in some form)
I would not give the average person one chance in ten thousand of actually luging to the finish line on an Olympic track. The only way they're getting down without crashing is if they don't actually attempt to slide down properly but keep their feet on the track or something.
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:36 AM
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I would not give the average person one chance in ten thousand of actually luging to the finish line on an Olympic track. The only way they're getting down without crashing is if they don't actually attempt to slide down properly but keep their feet on the track or something.
That's more or less how I was imagining it, yes. That said, some tracks are regularly hosting various exhibition events like wok racing or shovel racing for amateurs who want to try sliding in a relatively safe manner.
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Old 05-26-2020, 07:43 PM
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Interesting discussion. A few comments:
One thing that's interesting about Chess is that while in a realistic sense a grandmaster will never lose to a novice, that never comes with an asterisk, because there's a calculatable non-zero chance that the novice will, turn after turn, just randomly make the best possible move. I'm pretty sure that if you did the math, the odds of a novice beating a grandmaster would end up being less than one in the number of atoms in the universe, or something like that, but it's definitely not mathematically zero. (Presumably the same sort of math applies to Go).

The only high level competitive event I can think of where a real novice has a genuinely non-trivial chance of beating a master is poker, because of the element of luck. A rec room player might just get it all in aces versus kings on hand 1, or for that matter, kings vs aces and spike a king.


On the flip side, how do you possibly script it so that a team of novices beats a team of professionals at, say, NFL football? As suggested upthread, you have to go to something truly insane such as multiple simultaneous fluke injuries, which doesn't really seem like it's in the spirit of the question. But how do we compare "none of us can imagine how it can happen" with "can be calclulated to be less than the number of atoms in the universe"?

There's also a distinction between football and some other sports like baseball and basketball, where an extremely large skill gap could be imaginably overcome by just closing your eyes and getting lucky. That is, a rec league basketball player is probably physically capable of throwing the ball the length of the court towards the basket. But it will only go in one time in 200. But that _could_ happen 100 times in a row. In baseball, similarly, a rec league player can at least go through the motions necessary to hit a MLB fastball. They'd just have to be insanely lucky to do so. But that luck is at least possible in a sense that seems, to me, to be missing from sports like NFL football in which a rec league player (a) probably can't physically throw a full field hail mary, and (b) luck alone won't result in that being caught, as receivers are actively trying to intercept it.


A couple of related-sounding questions:
(1) What sports could work OK if both teams featured a super wide range of abilities... but they matched between the teams. Ie, teams of 8 featuring 2 world champs, 2 minor leaguers, 2 college players, and 2 rec league players. (Ultimate Frisbee with man-to-man coverage, for instance, would probably work pretty well.)
(2) What sports, when competed at a rec league level, most resemble that same sport when played at a world class level.... just somewhat worse. Ie, the same basic things happen in similar proportions, just all done much much better at the high level.
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Old 05-27-2020, 07:50 AM
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That's more or less how I was imagining it, yes. That said, some tracks are regularly hosting various exhibition events like wok racing or shovel racing for amateurs who want to try sliding in a relatively safe manner.
I have long wanted to slide a curling stone down a bobsled track, just to see what would happen.
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Old 05-27-2020, 08:46 AM
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I suspect that a lot of sports could be played with mixed teams like you describe... except that, in practice, most of them would be one-on-one (or two-on-two, or however many pros you have) with some spectators having better-than-ringside seats. For sports with positions, it might depend on which position the pro is in: If you construct baseball teams that way, with a pro as pitcher on each side, then the game is going to go into extra innings at 0-0 until one of the pro pitchers manages to get a fluke hit off (and none of the non-pros are ever going to get that hit off). On the other hand, if your pro on each team is the center fielder, then he's guaranteed to make any play in center field (which won't be that many, since the Little Leaguers won't even be hitting that far), and whenever he comes up to bat is likely to be a hit or better, but the rest of the game will be mostly unaffected, and the outcome will be decided by which amateurs are better at getting on base.
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:11 AM
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and whenever he comes up to bat is likely to be a hit or better,
If the teams are smart, they'll intentionally walk the pro every time.
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Old 05-27-2020, 09:16 AM
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I have long wanted to slide a curling stone down a bobsled track, just to see what would happen.
Just think of the poor guy with the broom trying to keep up.
  #82  
Old 05-27-2020, 12:20 PM
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I suspect that a lot of sports could be played with mixed teams like you describe... except that, in practice, most of them would be one-on-one (or two-on-two, or however many pros you have) with some spectators having better-than-ringside seats.
That's why Ultimate (with man-to-man coverage) works so well. Is it easier to throw to a world class player being covered by another world class player, or a rec league player covered by another rec league player? And because (unlike soccer or basketball) you can't move the ball yourself, you can't just have lebron driving to the hoop against chumps over and over and over.
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Old 05-28-2020, 11:39 AM
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I have long wanted to slide a curling stone down a bobsled track, just to see what would happen.
Sounds dangerous, things could go downhill........fast!

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Old 05-28-2020, 01:38 PM
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Bah, that's just the slippery slope fallacy.
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:58 AM
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I have long wanted to slide a curling stone down a bobsled track, just to see what would happen.
I've never heard of such an experiment taking place but I don't think the stone would actually make it far, let alone reach the finish line. It's simply way too light to reach the speeds the tracks are designed for. The stone would be scraping the bottom wall of every curve instead of taking a nice sweeping turn to pick up speed, not to mention the complete lack of steering which would make it bounce off the walls in straights.

Plus, a sliding track isn't a constant downward slope. At least some tracks have incorporated uphill sections, too.
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Old 05-29-2020, 09:01 AM
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Curling stones are almost as heavy as luge sleds. It might make it.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:14 AM
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Still very doubtful as that would only be 1/4 to 1/5 of the combined weight of sled and athlete. A sled seldom makes it to the finish line on its own after a crash, unless it happens way down the track. Usually, by the time the sled has gone through the next curve or two, it has already bled off enough speed that it is safe for the nearest track worker or coach to simply grab it and lift it out of the track.
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Old 05-29-2020, 01:39 PM
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Luge is for children. Adults do skeleton.
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Old 05-29-2020, 02:12 PM
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There are some sports where I don't even know how they do it. Gymnastics, pole vault, diving come to mind.
Pole vaulting is what I came in here to mention. When I watch people doing this on TV, I can't comprehend how you'd even begin to learn to do it. Then they'll replay a vault in slow-motion and I realize that it's even more complicated than I thought.
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Old 05-29-2020, 03:17 PM
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Luge is for children. Adults do skeleton.
everyone else calls that sledding. Why bother with a different name? Let me guess because they want to sound cooler?
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Old 05-29-2020, 05:38 PM
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Luge is for children. Adults do skeleton.
You actually got me wondering - is there an established sport where one can go from the "fit person with zero experience" level we are discussing here to the very top in a shorter timeframe?

Over the past few Olympics, winning the gold in men's skeleton has been somewhat of a point of pride for the host nation. Korea had barely any presence in the sport before 2011 when they were awarded the 2018 games (and winter sports fans back then would laugh at the idea of them becoming a powerhouse), but they immediately moved to pour a lot of funds and manpower in a skeleton program, Sungbin Yun took up the sport at the age of 17 and went on to triumph in front of his home crowd. All signs point to China getting set to repeat that feat - their best young slider won his first World Cup medal this past season and has almost two full seasons to improve even more. So that's around 6-7 years between your first attempts at a sport and an Olympic gold, or whatever is considered the pinnacle of a particular sport.

No other sport comes to mind, at least immediately. I am reluctant to include the likes of bobsled push athletes (because their job is more of a "go all out and don't screw up" type rather than the result of honing specific skills over years and decades) or the occasional foreign NFL convert who takes up football after coming to the US as a student athlete in a different sport (these players may get a pro football job but seldom excel over locals who have played it in some form for most of their lives, unless we are talking something narrow like kicking or punting which then in turn disqualifies Australian football, rugby or soccer players under the "not a beginner" rule).

Last edited by NorthernStar; 05-29-2020 at 05:39 PM.
  #92  
Old 05-29-2020, 05:40 PM
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Pole vaulting is what I came in here to mention. When I watch people doing this on TV, I can't comprehend how you'd even begin to learn to do it. Then they'll replay a vault in slow-motion and I realize that it's even more complicated than I thought.
We teach it in High School track. It can be difficult to find a coach qualified enough to teach it. You can't just show up and teach kids pole-vaulting. You really have to know it yourself. Fortunately, both schools I have been in have had a coach that could come in a couple times a week to train it.

Basically, you start by simply learning how to run holding the pole properly and straight up. If you can not run with it in the elevated position you can't plant it safely. Once students show they can do this, they work on planting the pole and elevating themselves just part-way. You work up to an actual vault over time.

The equipment is super expensive, too. The mat has to be specifically designed for vault or you can not get insurance to cover any risks. The mounting of the bar also has to be done correctly. You can't be cheap on having it installed.

Anyway, they start as young as 15, but only with top jumpers. Most kids wait until their Junior year(16-17 years old) to get into this event. It's kind of a specialist thing.
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Old 05-29-2020, 06:24 PM
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Anyway, they start as young as 15 ...
Or in rare cases, at 3 (here's a video starting at age 7 *), which can lead to breaking world records by age 20.

*Warning for music that rates as godawful even by the strict YouTube standard.


I concur that pole vaulting is a "technique-intensive" sport with a huge difference between professional and layman. Others in track and field would include hammer throw, discus and the triple jump.
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Old 05-29-2020, 11:35 PM
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We teach it in High School track. It can be difficult to find a coach qualified enough to teach it. You can't just show up and teach kids pole-vaulting. You really have to know it yourself. Fortunately, both schools I have been in have had a coach that could come in a couple times a week to train it.

Basically, you start by simply learning how to run holding the pole properly and straight up. If you can not run with it in the elevated position you can't plant it safely. Once students show they can do this, they work on planting the pole and elevating themselves just part-way. You work up to an actual vault over time.

The equipment is super expensive, too. The mat has to be specifically designed for vault or you can not get insurance to cover any risks. The mounting of the bar also has to be done correctly. You can't be cheap on having it installed.

Anyway, they start as young as 15, but only with top jumpers. Most kids wait until their Junior year(16-17 years old) to get into this event. It's kind of a specialist thing.
Thanks for that interesting explanation. I figured students wouldn't do a complete vault on the first try, but I couldn't get my head around how you'd gradually work up to that. A well-executed pole vault seems almost miraculous to me.
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Old 05-30-2020, 12:32 AM
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greyhound racing.
  #96  
Old 05-30-2020, 08:43 AM
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Your typical man off the street isn't anywhere near as good at greyhound racing as one of the pros. Though he's even further from horse racing, and for falconing, forget about it.
  #97  
Old 05-30-2020, 10:11 AM
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Boxing — remember Mike Tyson’s early fights in the 1980s? He destroyed other fighters, with several 1st round knockouts in under a minute.

1985-04-10, 52 seconds, Trent Singleton — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=K4QQOUsaXnY
1985-06-20, 39 seconds, Ricardo Spain — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eG65V9dJd50
1985-09-05, 39 seconds, Michael Johnson — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jGYIw_anTBM
1985-10-25, 37 seconds, Robert Colay — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ix_-kvU8ZRc
1985-11-01, 54 seconds, Sterling Benjamin — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DYZ2DV4kizU
1985-12-27, 50 seconds, Mark Young — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4JpazC66ASs
1986-07-26, 30 seconds, Marvis Frazier — https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc2phQYGq2g

The average Joe off the street probably wouldn’t last 5 seconds against Tyson, or any professional boxer.
  #98  
Old 05-31-2020, 04:22 AM
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Professional wrestling

American football because there are so many specialized positions

NHL hockey since equipment managers can be recruited as emergency goalies
  #99  
Old 05-31-2020, 08:24 AM
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Are those examples of least or greatest disparity?
  #100  
Old 05-31-2020, 08:37 AM
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NHL hockey since equipment managers can be recruited as emergency goalies
That guy, David Ayers, actually runs a goaltending school. He may not have played in the NHL before his big moment but he wasn't exactly a noob either.
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