Thursday, May 1, 2014

Football vs Basketball vs Soccer

Indulge me for a moment while I think a bit about the differences between these sports.

While there are plenty of fans of all three of these sports, I'm interested in thinking about why some people are strong fans of one or two but not all three. I believe quite a few people fit into this interest group. What about baseball and hockey? We'll get to that in a moment. Personally, I find football fascinating, basketball highly interesting, and soccer mildly entertaining. Wondering why got me to thinking . . .

I believe varying appreciation for these three sports ultimately comes down to a different appreciation for the marginal score--that is, the incremental or additional score. Soccer scoring is too infrequent to produce a sufficiently large enough fan interest from the marginal score alone. If you're watching soccer, it must be for more than just the occasional scoring. Basketball is on the opposite end of the spectrum where scoring is too frequent to produce a sufficiently large enough fan interest. If you're watching basketball, you must be watching it for more than just the frequent scoring. Football is in the middle where the marginal score all by itself becomes a sufficiently large driver of interest.

For these reasons we have support for soccer being called "The Beautiful Game". In basketball on the other hand fans are not looking for the marginal score; instead they're looking for the sensational score. So in a given game whether there are few points scored or many, points won't be the driver of how interesting it is the typical fan. The driver will be how many sensational plays there are from dunks to three-pointers to amazing assists. In football virtually every scoring play is an amazing sensational play. Soccer shares this quality except soccer has way too few points scored.

So, one's appreciation for each sport will relate to how one values marginal scoring--the more one values a marginal score, looks forward to the actual next score to take place, the more one will enjoy football since it offers the most value from scoring itself. As one fades from that peak, it depends on what else they look for to enjoy spectating. If one values more the flow and the back and forth of the game, one is more attracted to soccer. If one values more the impact and style of actually scoring, one leans toward basketball. Looked at this way I see golf and baseball very much like football. I see hockey (obviously, 'soccer on ice') very much like soccer as are gymnastics and wrestling. I see boxing and tennis very much like basketball (think punches equaling baskets made). More parallels could be drawn. Looking at my interest personally shows the limits of this theory. I definitely like basketball more than baseball or golf even though the latter two's close cousin, football, is king for me; so there is surely more going on to determine who is a fan of what. And I am not forgetting that some people are strong fans of all three football, basketball, and soccer.

Remember that my major implication is what type of fan is attracted to each of the three sports. It's why basketball fans may find soccer boring and soccer fans may find basketball redundant. Soccer games are usually not as close as the score would seem to indicate, and basketball fans find this particularly confusing. A lead in basketball is usually not as secure as it would seem, and for this soccer fans are confused. A football game can have nothing sensational leaving basketball fans wanting. On the other hand a football game can be filled with plays that make it seem that one team is throwing the contest. These games with too easy of scoring leave soccer fans wanting.

PS. I don't know and I don't care where Quidditch falls in this analysis.