Archive for April, 2013

Post #175: It’s too simple to be fair

Monday, April 29th, 2013

“If it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?” - Vince Lombardi

When I was in high school, I tried really hard to change the way they scored our Cross Country event, because there was a glaring issue with it. They argued that they wanted to encourage everyone to participate, and so awarded anyone who completed the 10 km run with 10 points. The biggest problem with this was that 10 points was a lot (in comparison, winning the 100 m race was only worth 5 points) so there surely was a lot of peer pressure to participate… but my issue with this was that some houses had more people who could participate than others. The year I looked into it, Blue house had 7 more people than my Green house, and 8 more than Red. I argued with the teachers for weeks, (I suggested using percentage instead), but they wouldn’t budge (i.e. didn’t care). Cross Country came around, and even though Green House dominated the top positions in the event, that didn’t matter… there was nothing we could do to catch up, and Blue House came out as the big winner that year. And the next year - i.e. the year after I graduated - it was Green House that had the Cross Country advantage, and they ended up winning the trophy that year.

I get really invested in developing fair methods for scoring things. My girlfriend and I are in a bowling league this year, and I was taken aback by their scoring method. The teams are six-a-side, and you bowl one official game each. To score, they match up the teams’ individual scores together, based on the arbitrary order in which you bowled, (first against first, etc.) and the one with the better score gets a point. They also give the team with the highest total score 4 points, which helps, but that ordering seems to leave things too much to chance. I started thinking about other ways to do it - like sort both teams by score first before matching them, or inverse-sort them first, or just use the Mario Kart Wii method of scoring 12 racers (15,12,10,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0). My girlfriend likes tracking our bowling stats, so she’s got her own spreadsheet of scores tabulated… but I started keeping a separate spreadsheet with ALL teams scores, and I might do some crunching after all is said and done.

Often I make things too complicated (because I can :P). These past few days has had me crunching NHL stats for my girlfriend’s office pool. I thought I’d help her out a little… but I ended up creating a monster. I pulled out all games from the season, and crunched them something fierce to determine team ratings. For shits and giggles, here’s what my stats would argue is going to happen in the first round… with adjustments in brackets for when I don’t agree completely. (more…)