Soccer and the Law of Large Numbers
By Arnold Kling
I am not a soccer fan. In my amateur opinion, the rules ought to be changed to foster more scoring. This is not because I want to see more scoring. But having more scoring would reduce the luck factor. It seems as though every game I read about, including Germany-England and Argentina-Mexico yesterday, is decided by a lucky goal or a wrongly-allowed goal or a wrongly-disallowed goal. It makes me think–why doesn’t this happen in baseball or football?
There is a lot of luck in baseball or football. There certainly are a lot of bad calls by umpires and referees in baseball and football.
The difference is that with more scoring, the law of large numbers kicks in. The chance that any one lucky bounce or bad call will determine the outcome is low, because scoring one point is not such an overwhelming event.
More scoring would also eliminate the need for a “shootout,” which makes a mockery of the whole sport. The equivalent in baseball would be after a certain number of innings to settle the game by bringing in batting-practice pitchers and staging a homerun derby.