Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Month: January 2016

Sport Geek #31: the problem with betting data, x3

The tennis fixing debacle has turned from spreadsheet sleuthing to flawed methodologies. For those who have lost track: The BBC and BuzzFeed ran their investigation, but didn’t name names. Dry hump. So everyone worked them out anyway, and it all went sort-of-public. Except, Lleyton Hewitt was named, and let’s face it, he’s the last person on earth who would fix a match. Cue lots of yes-but analysis of strange betting patterns. The only way this is going to get resolved is when we follow the money. More evidence, please. But the right kind.

So to the must-read stories of the week. Continue reading

Sport Geek #30: in a fix

It’s usually money that corrupts sport. But in the case of tennis, it’s also technology. As I wrote this week in the FT, there are betting exchanges with a huge range of under-the-radar matches where you can bet on set outcomes. It makes match-fixing look incredibly easy. The hope is that the very technology that allows the match-fixing can also help catch it. Readily available data means anyone with a spreadsheet skills can track what’s going on. Surely, if BuzzFeed and the BBC can do it, tennis can monitor itself properly?

Here are the stories of the week: Continue reading

Sport Geek #29: Yaya no-no; LA-la land; Fifa foe

There are some phrases that, by their very nature, make it very hard for the listener to disagree. They are like putting “right?” on the end of every sentence. At some point, the response needs to be: “wrong” – but that makes you sound aggressive and antagonistic. Right? (see what I did there).

Case in point. When Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the US, he followed up with: “We have no choice. We have NO choice.” Well, yes we do have a choice, but the battlelines have been drawn in a place you don’t want them. Arguing about choice isn’t the point.

And so to Yaya Touré. Having come second as African footballer of the year, his classless reaction was to ponder: “what can we do?” The obvious response is: “there is no ‘we’. You need to grow up and stop being an arrogant git”. Yet that’s too aggressive. The polite response is to quietly ponder: “Hmm, what can we do?” But that’s giving in. He’s already won if we do that. So while Trump and Touré don’t seem too similar on the surface, they are both very good at framing the debate in their terms. Beware.

And so to this newsletter, which is back after a holiday hiatus. Not comprehensive, but hopefully thoughtful. Enjoy. Continue reading

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