7/17/2010

07-17-10 - Broken Games

Soccer is broken. There's too little scoring and it's too easy to play a very defensive style. The issue with low scores is not just lack of excitement (that aspect is debatable), the big problem is that in a game that's often 1:0 or 0:0 , it greatly increases the importance of bad calls and flukes. If the scores were more like 7-5 , then 1 slip up wouldn't matter so much. Statistically, the "best" team loses in soccer more often than any other major sport.

Anyway, it seems like it would be very easy to fix. You just do something to force an attacking style. One random idea I had is you could require that 3 forwards always stay on the opponent's side of midfield. This prevents you from drawing back everyone for defense, and means that the attackers can get a numbers advantage whenever they want to take that risk.

No Limit Hold'em is broken. It's far too profitable and easy to play a very tight style. The fix is very easy - antes. But almost nobody does it outside of the biggest games. (an extra blind would also work well).

Baseball is broken. Not in a game rule system way, I think it actually functions pretty well in that sense. Rather it is broken as a spectator sport because it is just too slow and drawn out. The fix for this is also very easy - put time limits on pitchers and batters. None of this fucking knocking the dirt off your shoes, throwing to first, then asking for more time, oh my god.

Basketball is broken. I wrote about that before so I won't repeat myself.

Rugby is broken. In a lot of ways actually. The rules of the scrum are very hard to enforce, so you constantly get collapsed scrums and balls not put in straight and so on, very messy, not fun to play or watch. The best part of the game is the free running, but it's very easy to win without a good running game at all, just by playing well in the set pieces and kicking, which is really ugly rugby. I don't have any great ideas on how to fix it, but it's definitely broken. Sevens is actually a much better game for the most part.

I guess it's pretty hard to change these things because they are established and have history and fans and so on, and any time you make a change a bunch of morons complain that you're mucking things up, but a bit of tweakage could seriously improve most sports.

ADDENDUM :

Tennis is broken. Power and serving are rewarded too much over control, which makes matches boring. The French Open is generally the best tennis of the year to watch because it's slower. This could be easily fixed by limitting racket technology to 1980 levels or something.

Auto racing is horribly broken. I think F1 is hopeless and boring so I won't talk about that. The Le Mans / GT series are almost interesting, but the stupid rules just make it incomprehensible who has an advantage each year. Some manufacturer can happen to have a car that fits well with the current rule set, and then they dominate for a few years. In many of the series, the cars are so modified that they hardly share any parts with their street origins at all. Like currently the BMW M3's are struggling in the ALMS but winning in the ELMS because of tiny differences in the arcane rules (something about suspension and aero that's allowed).

I think the solution is very easy : let manufacturers bring anything they want, but it has to be available for the public to buy at some fixed price. So rather than all these classes that have all these rules (no 4WD for example in the Le Mans series, and minimum weights and so on) - get rid of the rules and have a $100k series and a $150k series. Let manufacturers make the best car they can make for that price, and if they want to take a loss and bring a car that's got more value than that, they can, as long as the public can buy it. This would really let us see what a $150k M3 can do vs a $150k R8.

16 comments:

Tom Forsyth said...

> Soccer is broken. There's too little scoring and it's too easy to play a very defensive style.

It's nice to see you've caught up to the cutting edge of 1930s football commentary.

Shut up and watch Aussie Rules for god's sakes. At least with that there's no pretense at a sport - they're very clear that what you're watching is tag-team MMA.

Or go watch the only sport that truly matters - cricket.

James said...

Making soccer a good game seems like it takes far too many rule adjustments. Any sport where the ref decides whether two players touching each other is acceptable contact or no-no touching is infuriating to me, which leaves basically tennis.

Nino Mojo said...

I don't mind the low scores in soccer that much, it reflects how hard it is to score.

Simple things to fix soccer:

1) junk the "offside" rule. This kills many opportunity to score, and is retarded.

2) allow video for ref decisions (the pet peeve of many for decades), making the ref less god-like.

3) punish severely any type of grabbing another player's shirt and faking injury, even if it's caught after the game on video. By severely I mean suspend the player for at least several weeks for the least offense, and suspend trainers too if the number of suspension in a given team in a year reaches a certain dissuasive threshold. I guess in a year that would clean soccer off most of its fuckery.


About 3), that's what puts me off the most. Every four years, as everyone is caught up in the world cup (which for some reason got attention in the US this year as if that was the first soccer world cup), I'm thinking "eeh, let's try and watch a game, I wanna be part of this excitement".

Then I turn on the TV, and after five minutes I'm disgusted by what I see on the field, no matter the team, they're all behaving like animals pulling on each other's shirt and faking injury like children. Which is all basically tolerated cheating. And I'm thinking this is everything but sport, and at this point they should just let them punch and kick each other legally.

I guess, not being a sports fan, this is why I like tennis much more than any other sport.

cbloom said...

"1) junk the "offside" rule. This kills many opportunity to score, and is retarded."

Hmm yeah that's a good point. I'm sure it was introduced at some time for game balance, but it's hard for me to fathom what good it serves now.

"2) allow video for ref decisions"

Yeah this should clearly be like the NFL which gets this almost completely right. It would also give the coaches something to do on the sidelines (ask for challenges) so they don't have to fake being involved so much.

"3) punish severely any type of grabbing another player's shirt and faking injury"

This is not so clear to me, because it just leads to situation where a game is decided by that severe punishment, and there will always be borderline cases.

I actually think the current system of fouls is soccer is not terrible, certainly better than many sports. If you start trying to call every ticky-tack bit of contact you get situations like basketball which is just ruined by constant foul calls.

A few things would help foul calls : 1. video review as you mentioned; 2. having a team of refs that can all call fouls, like the NFL, one head ref and then two assistants; 3. more calls against floppers; video review should help with this, maybe a team in the booth would be always watching for floppers and any time a foul is called they alert the head ref if they thing it was in fact a flop.

The problem with fouls will always be low scoring. When a score is 1-0 and a foul = a penalty kick = almost guaranteed goal , that makes it way too important.

sylvain-v said...

Football (hem, European-soccer in here) is just so fucked up:
- too much cheating/simulating
- too much random-referee-ness
- No respect toward the referees. Very commonly we'll see 10 players shouting at the main referee at the same time.
- Teams playing the Italian way are just plain boring (score once then all players defend).

Rugby actually fixed all these issues:
- video referring is in.
- Complain to the referee and your whole team has to move back 10 meters (then arguing with the referee becomes a costly error).
- Contacts are part of the game, and the difference between valid and forbidden contacts is quite clear.

Thanks to the "roastbeefs" for inventing such an interesting game ;)

sylvain-v said...

""The best part of the game is the free running, but it's very easy to win without a good running game at all, just by playing well in the set pieces and kicking, which is really ugly rugby.""

Not sure I understand your complain here. That's actually a major part of the strategy side of rugby. And it's quite easy to see on TV ; still I agree that it's more difficult to see/feel well when one's on the field. And actually these actions often lead to free running, which you seem to like.

cbloom said...

"Not sure I understand your complain here. That's actually a major part of the strategy side of rugby. And it's quite easy to see on TV ; still I agree that it's more difficult to see/feel well when one's on the field. And actually these actions often lead to free running, which you seem to like. "

Pretty rugby, which is fun to play and watch, involves lots of passes, running, kicks ahead into play.

Ugly rugby, which is boring to play and watch, involves a lot of kicking for touch, lineouts (and not straight calls), scrums and (collapsing the scrum calls, put in not straight calls), lots of rucks with people holding on too much.

I know there's strategy in the ugly rugby, and the Europeans in general do a good job of using that strategy to beat southern hemisphere teams that seem much better.

But the point is it's just not how I'd like to see the games played. So the question is how can you tweak the game to fix that.

I agree the refereeing system in rugby absolutely blows everything else away. I think I've written about that before. Every sport should copy it.

Nino Mojo said...

Good point about the multiple refs in soccer.

Sylvain-v: "10 players shouting at the ref"

Well, what's the cause of that? I think it's because frustration builds up when you know the ref's decision is considered final and godly even when he makes gross mistakes. A soccer field is 100m x 50m. There are constantly 22 players on it running in every direction plus a ball that travels faster than anyone can rune. One man - who the rest of the year might be a landlord or something - is supposed to magically have a full understanding of everything that happens on this field. LOLZ :)

I'm not at all an expert at sports, but my guess as why rugby refereeing is better than soccer is probably because rugby is less popular and there's less money involved (still a lot, but much less than soccer). Soccer is too popular for its own good, it is controlled by old fat rich (white?) men who are too old-fashioned and crooky to update anything. Now every little detail of the game, its rules and everything, is considered a holy custom and don't you dare speak ill of it.

Ginzo said...

Re: soccer, you don't need to force action by changing rules, just by shortening the field's dimensions.

cbloom said...

" Re: soccer, you don't need to force action by changing rules, just by shortening the field's dimensions. "

Yeah I was gonna say something about this. Indoor soccer for example is a really fun game, much like sevens rugby, the smaller teams = more action, it's faster and more pure, and just like sevens rugby it's not taken seriously.

sylvain-v said...

""Sylvain-v: "10 players shouting at the ref"

Well, what's the cause of that? I think it's because frustration builds up when you know the ref's decision is considered final and godly even when he makes gross mistakes.""

That's partly the reason. But also, most of the time these players are just trying to cheat: they know they made a fault, still they complain to influence the referee decision and mind (if he thinks he might have made a mistake, he'll be less severe on the next fault).


""my guess as why rugby refereeing is better than soccer is probably because rugby is less popular and there's less money involved""

Actually the action in rugby is more localized around the ball ; and also there's the magic "in-game/out of game" line made by the ball, which makes it very easy to see who's out of game, and which prevents most faults.


""Re: soccer, you don't need to force action by changing rules, just by shortening the field's dimensions.""

The Fifa is thinking about having more referees on the field.

sylvain-v said...

Addendum: when football players "fall/dive" with no reason (or like when they made a fault or when they invent a virtual one): that's plain cheating.

When they keep on grabbing each others on corners and the like: that's plain cheating.

When they kick opponents, that's plain cheating, that's plain cheating - see some Dutch moves such as: http://www.izipik.com/images/201007/11/h0xb5jmz6h0di2b0me-1278875206378.gif

Football mindset is just too corrupted, too much about cheating, this sport sucks and it gets more and more disgusting.

Michael said...

I'm partial to watching NFL, NCAAFB and NCAABB. And I like to play basketball and indoor soccer, they're good sports.

I see you're knocking the coaches, too; but in these sports I like, the coaches pre-game preparation and half-time adjustments are very much a determining factor of who wins.

And I think the better team does win, maybe 80% of the time.

Nino Mojo said...

I feel that shrinking the size of the soccer field would take away most of the thrill. As a parallel version of the sports, though.

Thatcher Ulrich said...

+1 to junking the offside rule. Too much of the game is determined by a technicality that is called inconsistently and interrupts the game.

-1 to video review. It would slow the game down too much. Also one of the cool things about soccer is that they use the same rules and equipment at the top level as at rec league games in Kazakhstan.

+1 to more refs. By junking offsides, the linesmen are now free to roam around and watch for fouls. No increase in staff so Khazaks can still afford it.

-1 to shrinking the field. Cramped soccer is like the ugly rugby that Charles rails against.

+1 to cracking down on faking; it just sucks.

Other people have said this better, but I think there is something to be said for the crushing capriciousness of soccer results. It leads to endless drama and suspense, not to mention hope. The better team still usually wins.

sylvain-v said...

"-1 to video review. It would slow the game down too much."

I might disagree here:
with-video: fault, referee asks for video-ref, wait 15s, done (and if someone complains, give him the finger and a yellow card).

without-video: fault, referee takes a decision in 2s, then players complain and argue for 30s, done.

Video win :)

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