Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Disclaimer: I know the World Cup is over, but I couldn't resist taking one more potshot at soccer.

You can tell a lot about a sport by how well it can be conveyed through "Game Tracker"-type interface. Specifically, there is a correlation between how watchable a sport is and how well it translates to a bunch of numbers and vector graphics. To start things off, let's look at a couple of totally objective lists of what works well on a Game Tracker and what doesn't:

Sports that work ok
*Football (especially when you're only watching for fantasy value)
*Cricket, I guess, just to prove this isn't an America/Europe thing

Sports that don't work ok
*Any kind of Auto Racing
*Track & Field
*Synchronized Swimming
*Bull Riding

The key, of course, is that in the sports that work ok, things happen regularly.. Even sports that are considered "slow" by today's standards can generate a lot of activity in a game tracker. Baseball seems designed for this kind of presentation- It's somehow, miraculously, watchable despite the fact that nothing happens during 98% of the game, in large part because it is a mathematician's dream. If you don't know what OPS is, you don't know jack.

But on to Soccer. I know what you're thinking: "Sure, there isn't much scoring, but there's a lot else going on, and some of that would come across in a game tracker, right?". Well here's a screenshot to help you make up your mind:


If you're too lazy to look at the details yourself, here's an excerpt of some crucial game information from the tracker, immediately following one of the most exciting events in soccer, a "DECENT EFFORT!" by Ukraine (This is not photoshop, I am not making this up): It is still very warm in Germany, even despite the setting sun; the players look to be sweating a good amount already.

I have no more to say.