Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday sports blogging... 

[] See Drew Brees throw the amazing electronically loaded pigskin at 600 RPM(!) to hit the bull's eye more accurately than an Olympic archer. (Or not -- don't get on me about how this misrepresents Olympic archers, I've heard plenty of that already). Via

[] We all know the complaint, "the ump is blind" -- but it's not supposed to be true literally in a playoff game. A single picture tops a thousand words of excuse.

[] Rising income inequality in the NFL and its implications are examined by Mark J. Perry (who normally blogs at Carpe Diem). Here's another factoid to document the story:
The seven highest-paid Indianapolis Colts in 2009 will have a combined $81.3-million cap cost -- which leaves the bottom 46 players on the active roster, eight practice-squad players and, say, estimated injured-reserve players to split the remaining estimated $40.7 million of the cap.

Salary-cap average of the relative Colt haves: $11,614,286.

Salary-cap average of the relative Colt have-nots: $678,333. [Peter King]

By the way, just one Colt player, quarterback Peyton Manning, gets $21 million of that cap money. You do the math on that.

[] Breaking News!!! ...
Even at Elite Programs, Ticket Prices for Women's Basketball Lag Behind Men's, Report Says

... a report is urging athletics departments to abandon their longstanding practice of charging less for tickets to women's basketball games than to men's games...

the report says colleges charged nearly three times as much, on average, for single-game seats for men's games. The disparity was even greater for season tickets, with the average highest-priced package at $233 for women and $2,500 for men.

"Colleges charge a premium for admission to see males play, even when women's basketball teams are ranked as among the very best performers in the nation," write the authors, Laura Pappano and Allison J. Tracy, both of the Wellesley Centers for Women.

By charging less for admission to highly ranked women's games, the authors say, athletics departments engage in "institutional discrimination"...
Yes, that must be it. University athletic departments intentionally defund themselves of valuable revenue from ticket sales solely for the enjoyment of discriminating against women.

I can't possibly think of any other reason why ticket prices would be lower for women's games. And neither can the "editor in charge of common sense" at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Oh, wait, there isn't one. The authors of the second and fifth comments below the story will have to do.

To be fair to the authors, you can read their own longer description of their study, in case you want to buy it. "[Author] Allison J. Tracy, Ph.D., is currently working on developing an explicitly feminist approach to quantitative data analysis..."

Don't we live in a wonderful country when Wellesley can charge parents $40,000 annual tuition, plus receive a whole heap of government aid, to be able to support such stellar research applications of feminist math?

[] Should football teams ever punt? This question has attracted football mavens since at least a few years ago when economist David Romer published a paper saying pretty convincingly, basically "no -- almost never".

But there's a big difference between theory and practice. Why in practice, in such an extremely competitive sport, do coaches keep punting far too much even when they know that they shouldn't and are sacrificing wins by doing so?

Many observers -- including Romer -- say it's because winning the game is only a coach's #2 priority. His #1 priority is keeping his job. And a coach who never punts when all the fans and media experts "know" he should risks being lynched by the ignorant mob. Ask Jim Zorn. (This behavior -- leaders knowingly doing the wrong thing for self-preservation -- has serious economic implications, which provided Romer's official rationale for doing the paper, apart from being a football fan).

Even Bill Belichick, who one would imagine has more job security than anybody in the NFL, and has a degree in economics, and has discussed the Romer paper with the press, says psychology is the problem -- players and fans who don't understand a coaches' decisions can make them untenable. Before a correct strategy can be adopted, players and public must first be educated about it, starting at a lower level.

Leading those public education efforts is coach Kevin Kelley of Pulaski Academy high school football team in Little Rock, Arkansas, who's been winning state championships getting fans adjusted to the "we never punt -- and we kick off onsides most of the time too" idea. Advanced NFL Stats gives links to a video interview with Kelley and more about him.