Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Month: September 2006

Go gamecocks

You can learn a lot about a place by the sports that people follow and how many show up. I’m in Columbia, South Carolina on a training course run by Ifra, and <a href=”http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=Columbia,+SC&ie=UTF8&om=1&z=17&ll=33.97326,-81.018248&spn=0.004022,0.010815&t=h&iwloc=A”>right next door is the stadium of the college football team</a>. That’s college football, not pro. How big would you think the stadium is? 10,000? 20,000? Not even close. It’s 80,000. <br />
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And it’s sold out. Every game. And it’s not even a good team – they <a href=”http://southcarolina.rivals.com/teamstandings.asp?Year=2005&Conf=8″>won 7, lost 5</a> last season. <br />
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We’re going to a game tomorrow – a sell out – and I’ll try to get some photos on the site here, but this is an unbelievable crowd attendance. If you look at the stadia of the world, this is big. If you exclude stadiums for motor sports and horseracing, which are round a bigger area than a football pitch, this is the 31st biggest in the world. And this includes all football, cricket, althetics and American football. <br />
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We talk about having great fans in the UK, but this is something else.<br />
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Top stadiums of the world over 80,000 capacity, (excluding motor sports and horse racing)<br />
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<table border=”1″ cellspacing=”0″ cellpadding=”2″ bordercolor=”#CECECE”> <tr> <td>&#160;</td> <td><b>Country</b></td> <td><b>Club</b></td> <td><b>Type</b></td> <td><b>City</b></td> <td><b>Stadium</b></td> <td><b>Capacity</b></td> <td><b>Built</b></td> <td><b>Seats</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td>1</td> <td>ESP</td> <td>FC Barcelona</td> <td>Soco</td> <td>Barcelona</td> <td>L’Estadi (Camp Nou)</td> <td>98 934</td> <td>1957</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>2</td> <td>USA</td> <td>UCLA Bruins</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Pasadena</td> <td>Rose Bowl Stadium</td> <td>92 542</td> <td>1922</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>3</td> <td>USA</td> <td>LSU Tigers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Baton Rouge</td> <td>Tiger Stadium</td> <td>92 400</td> <td>1924</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>4</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Alabama Crimson Tide</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Tuscaloosa</td> <td>Bryant Denny Stadium</td> <td>92 158</td> <td>1929</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>5</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Georgia Bulldogs</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Athens</td> <td>Sanford Stadium</td> <td>92 058</td> <td>1929</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>6</td> <td>USA</td> <td>USC Trojans</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Los Angeles</td> <td>L.A. Memorial Coliseum</td> <td>92 000</td> <td>1923</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>7</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Washington Redskins</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Landover</td> <td>FedEx Field</td> <td>91 665</td> <td>1997</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>8</td> <td>IND</td> <td>Bengal Cricket</td> <td>Cric</td> <td>Calcutta</td> <td>Ranji Stadium</td> <td>90 000</td> <td>-</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>9</td> <td>ZAF</td> <td>Orlando Pirates</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Johannesburg</td> <td>FNB Stadium</td> <td>90 000</td> <td>1989</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>10</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Florida Gators</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Gainesville</td> <td>Ben Hill Griffin Stadium</td> <td>88 548</td> <td>1929</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>11</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Auburn Tigers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Auburn</td> <td>Jordan Hare Stadium</td> <td>87 451</td> <td>1939</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>12</td> <td>ITA</td> <td>AC Milan/Inter</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Milano</td> <td>Stadio Giuseppe Meazza</td> <td>85 700</td> <td>1927</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>13</td> <td>ECU</td> <td>Barcelona SC</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Guayaquil</td> <td>Isidro Romero Carbo</td> <td>85 000</td> <td>1986</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>14</td> <td>RUS</td> <td>Spartak Moskva</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Moskva</td> <td>Luzhniki Stadion</td> <td>84 745</td> <td>1956</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>15</td> <td>AUS</td> <td>National Stadium</td> <td>Mix</td> <td>Sydney</td> <td>Telstra Stadium</td> <td>83 500</td> <td>1999</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>16</td> <td>UKR</td> <td>FK Dynamo Kyiv</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Kiev</td> <td>Stadion NSK Olimpiyskiy</td> <td>83 160</td> <td>1948</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>17</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Texas A&M Aggies</td> <td>AF</td> <td>College Station</td> <td>Kyle Field</td> <td>82 600</td> <td>1927</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>18</td> <td>IRL</td> <td>GAA-use</td> <td>GAA</td> <td>Dublin</td> <td>Croke Park</td> <td>82 500</td> <td>2002</td> <td>69 500</td> </tr> <tr> <td>19</td> <td>ITA</td> <td>AS Roma/SS Lazio</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Roma</td> <td>Stadio Olimpico</td> <td>82 307</td> <td>1952</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>20</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Florida State Seminoles</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Tallahassee</td> <td>Doak Campbell Stadium</td> <td>82 300</td> <td>1950</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>21</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Oklahoma Sooners</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Norman</td> <td>Gaylord Family Stadium</td> <td>82 112</td> <td>1923</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>22</td> <td>BRA</td> <td>Clube Atl�tico Mineiro</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Belo Horizonte</td> <td>Est�dio Magalh�es Pinto</td> <td>81 987</td> <td>1965</td> <td>59 042</td> </tr> <tr> <td>23</td> <td>TUR</td> <td>National Stadium</td> <td>Mix</td> <td>Istanbul</td> <td>Atat�rk Olimpiyat Stadi</td> <td>81 653</td> <td>2001</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>24</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Clemson Tigers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Clemson</td> <td>Memorial Stadium</td> <td>81 473</td> <td>1942</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>25</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Wisconsin Badgers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Madison</td> <td>Camp Randall Stadium</td> <td>81 321</td> <td>1917</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>26</td> <td>DEU</td> <td>Borussia Dortmund</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Dortmund</td> <td>Signal Iduna Park</td> <td>81 264</td> <td>1974</td> <td>53 675</td> </tr> <tr> <td>27</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Nebraska Cornhuskers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Lincoln</td> <td>Memorial Stadium</td> <td>81 067</td> <td>1923</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>28</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Notre Dame Fighting Irish</td> <td>AF</td> <td>South Bend</td> <td>Notre Dame Stadium</td> <td>80 795</td> <td>1930</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>29</td> <td>USA</td> <td>UAB Blazers</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Birmingham</td> <td>Legion Field Stadium</td> <td>80 601</td> <td>1926</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>30</td> <td>ESP</td> <td>Real Madrid CF</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Madrid</td> <td>Santiago Bernabeu</td> <td>80 354</td> <td>1947</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>31</td> <td>USA</td> <td><b>S. Carolina Gamecocks</b></td> <td>AF</td> <td><b>Columbia</b></td> <td>Williams Brice Stadium</td> <td><b>80 250</b></td> <td>1934</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>32</td> <td>USA</td> <td>New York Giants/Jets</td> <td>AF</td> <td>E. Rutherford</td> <td>Giants Stadium</td> <td>80 242</td> <td>1976</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>33</td> <td>PER</td> <td>Universitario</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Lima</td> <td>Teodoro Fern�ndez</td> <td>80 093</td> <td>2000</td> <td>60 000</td> </tr> <tr> <td>34</td> <td>USA</td> <td>Texas Longhorns</td> <td>AF</td> <td>Austin</td> <td>Texas Memorial Stadium</td> <td>80 082</td> <td>1924</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>35</td> <td>CHN</td> <td>Multi-use</td> <td>Mix</td> <td>Guangzhou</td> <td>Guangdong Stadium</td> <td>80 012</td> <td>2001</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>36</td> <td>COD</td> <td>National Stadium</td> <td>Mix</td> <td>Kinshasa</td> <td>Stade des Martyrs</td> <td>80 000</td> <td>-</td> <td>-</td> </tr> <tr> <td>37</td> <td>LBY</td> <td>Al-Ittihad Tripoli</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Tripoli</td> <td>11 June Stadium</td> <td>80 000</td> <td>-</td> <td>-</td> </tr> <tr> <td>38</td> <td>CHN</td> <td>Shanghai United</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>Shanghai</td> <td>Shanghai Stadium</td> <td>80 000</td> <td>1997</td> <td>all-seater</td> </tr> <tr> <td>39</td> <td>BRA</td> <td>S�o Paulo FC</td> <td>Soc</td> <td>S�o Paulo</td> <td>C�cero Pompeu de Toledo</td> <td>80 000</td> <td>1960</td> <td>-</td> </tr></table><br />
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Source: worldstadiums.com

Out of the Woods?

Much has been made of the superior effort of the European team in Ryder Cups over their higher-ranked and more illustrious American counterparts. The theory goes that Europeans are more suited to the team game, and the solipsistic yanks are just <a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1877235,00.html”>not team players – the stats back this up, as Gavyn Davies shows</a>. <a href=”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/main.jhtml?xml=/sport/2006/09/21/sgnich21.xml”>Tiger Woods in particular is often cited</a> as having a very poor Ryder Cup attitude and record when stacked next to his 12 majors and umpteen titles.<br />
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So far, so true. But a couple of things look out of place here.<br />
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Tiger Woods may have performed badly, but his record in Ryder Cup play is as follows:<br />
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Cups played: 4<br />
matches: <b>20</b><br />
Overall <b>W-L-H: 7-11-2</b> <br />
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This is a scoring record of 40% – not good for the outstanding golfer of his generation.<br />
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However, the US team in the four Cups in which Woods has taken part have scored 13.5, 14.5, 12.5 and 9.5 points, out of a possible 28×4=112 – a return of 44%. So Wood’s contribution is not that much worse than the rest of the team. It’s only a 4% difference. <br />
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If Woods had played 4 percent better, he would have won only one more match overall in Ryder Cup play – enough to have swung the 1997 cup to the US away from Europe if, for example, he had beaten Constantino Rocca in the singles, but not enough to make a difference in any other cup. <br />
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So – Woods may be poor, but the rest of the team is not doing much better. Given that since 1997 only TWO <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_championships_%28golf%29#Major_championship_winners”>majors</a> have been won by Europeans (the 1999 Masters by Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal and Open by Paul Lawrie) and another <b>13 Americans</b> have won Majors aside from Woods, Tiger should not be the scapegoat.

Breaking point

Stats are one of the beautiful things of sport. Win loss records, goals per game, averages, totals. Then every so often, a statistical measure gets taken up that is misleading to such an extent that I find it amazing it isn’t scrapped. In particular – break point conversions in tennis.<br />
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<a href=”http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/stats/day20/1701ms.html”>The stats from the Federer-Roddick US Open final</a> show why Roger is so good. He hit 69 winners to only 19 unforced errors – that’s a superb reflection of his quality of play. But why oh why do tennis statisticians include break point conversions? Let’s think about this…<br />
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Tennis is all about winning games in the set. It doesn’t matter if you win a game to love, or after 10 deuces. You get the game on the board. That’s why some players lose despite winning more overall points (for example, <a href=”http://www.usopen.org/en_US/scores/stats/day16/1403ms.html”>Marat Safin vs Tommy Haas</a>) <br />
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So, if you have a 0-40 on your opponent’s serve, and break on the third go, the missed break points are irrelevant. Why do we count them? Roddick was 2 of 8 in the US Open final, and Roger 6 of 16. But the interesting statistic is when a player has break points and loses the game. If they win the game on their 5th break point, who cares?<br />
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If we look into the point-by-point stats of the match, Federer’s 10 missed break points (BPs) were distributed across 6 games, with 4 of those games still won by Federer and 2 that “got away”, (one with 5 missed BPs). So, in reality, although he “missed” 10 BPs, only 6 were opportunities that mattered in only 2 games. <br />
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Roddick had 6 missed BPs, which were in 3 games that he eventually lost. So Federer missed fewer game opportunities (2) than Roddick (3). That’s where the match was won and lost. Tennis analysts should scrap the break points, and look at the games that got away.

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