Damon's Reviews > Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper
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's review
Mar 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: soccer

Soccernomics is done in the style of "Freakanomics," but with a sports writer's eye for details and story. Having studied Statistics and Data Analysis, I know that all data and surveys results must be taken with a grain of salt. Although, the writers do have a persuasive arguement for how economics and location, strongly effect why certain countries continually do well in international competitions, and others continue to struggle.
One particular chapter I liked, discussed Game Theory, and how it is linked to penalty shoot outs. I have several friends who are video game and board game designers, and they love discussing Game Theory with me. So it was a pleasure to listen to several economisists discuss the applications of Game Theory to sudden death penalty shootouts. In practice, it is a lot like playing rock, paper, scissors. If you know your opponent has a tendency to play scissors, then you should play rock to beat him. However, if your opponent knows that you know that he likes to play scissors, then he will play papper to beat your rock. However, if you know that he knows, that you know, than you should be the one to play scissors to beat his paper. This can go on forever,...in theory.
I also enjoyed the discussion on hosting the World Cup, and why countries continue to covet it, even though more and more economicists are argueing that it does not improve the economy, but actually puts a bigger burden on the host. The authors also compare hosting a soccer cup, to building NFL stadiums, baseball parks, hockey rinks, and hosting the World Rugby Cup, or the Cricket World Cup. The authors argue that the premesis behind, "if you build it, they will come," is false, and only leads to bigger profits for the team owners, at the expense of the local residance.
Now, many of the ideas that the authors argue will continue to be a topic of debate for many years to come, they don't have all the answers but I did enjoy the book a lot, and recommand it to any soccer fan.
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