Mark Cuban is anti-NCAA
"The NCAA rules are so hypocritical, there’s absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he’s not going to class [and] he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League."
"Then you wouldn’t be under the stupidity of the NCAA," Cuban said. "There’s no reason for the NCAA to exist. None."
It makes zero sense that America has intertwined the academy and minor league sports. I’d argue that it hasn’t been good for either one.
Texas Independence Day
Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may. — Sam Houston
In case you haven’t been paying attention to what is happening in Venezuela:
As Senator Rubio lays out, Cuba’s dictators are exporting its corrupt leftist model of brutal repression to Venezuela.
Comments on social inequality as viewed through sport
I read the comments around the internet yesterday from my post on social inequality as viewed through sport.
I am not tempted to gather more data so that I can run regressions and machine learning algorithms. I did this for fun to satisfy my own curiosity, and posted the charts because I was surprised at how the data turned out — most Euro leagues are just not very competitive at all over history.
1. Several Italians commented that the Anglo-Saxon countries were the most equal. Looking broadly, it does appear that England, France, Canada and the US have the most competitive parity in their pro sports histories. But wait…so do Brazil and Argentina?
2. The flip side is that the so-called PIIGS all had relatively similar looking charts where a few clubs dominate. But then…so did Germany and Holland!
3. Are #1 and #2 just randomness and noise…? I certainly wouldn’t want to draw conclusions on any particular country from a non-stationary data set that is quite small. The results might be because of how the national football federation is structured, political history, when national professional football began in that country, TV deals, etc etc. There’s just not enough data to draw conclusions.
3a. I could have added domestic cup winners into the graphs. But that seemed like lots of work for little reward, plus it adds another element of “error.” Some countries like England value their domestic cup more than others.
4. Some people commented on the apples to orange comparison of the American sports (high-stakes playoffs) vs the rest of the world (year-long excellence rewarded).
True — the structure is different. The high-variance nature of playoffs will make American pro sports appear to have more competitive parity than if the championship was decided based only on regular season play.
Social inequality as seen through soccer
As a big soccer fan, I’ve noticed that some countries have competitive domestic leagues. Others don’t. While there are a million factors that go into who wins in a particular country — here is a very basic visualization of the data. Does it reflect social inequality? I’ll let you be the judge, as this is obviously just a very basic starting point.
[Update: Note that the PIIGS member countries do look rather similar!]
Here are charts of championships in the domestic league for major soccer (football) leagues during the professional era. Note that in some countries international cups or domestic cups are also a big deal.
Serie A is not very competitive. Of the 81 championships, about 80% have been won by just two cities: Milan (AC Milan and Internazionale) and Turin (Juventus and Torino). Two!
Meanwhile, the club with the 5th most titles (Bologna) last won a title in the early 60s.
Spain’s La Liga is usually won by Real Madrid or Barcelona, with Atletico Madrid also winning a respectable 11% of championships. Between the three of them — representing just two cities — they have won over 2/3 of the titles. The last team to win a title other than Barca and Madrid: Valencia in 2004.
The Basque teams together have won 10 times (Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad). Valencia has won 6 titles, while the Andalusians have won just two championships (one each for Sevilla and Betis) and the Galicians have just one as well (Deportivo La Coruña).
Quite a few regions (“autonomous communities”) of Spain have never seen their team win a title.
"Association football" began in Britain, so they have the longest history and as such appear the most competitive over the professional era since 1888. However since the Premier League began in 1993, only 5 teams — Arsenal, Man United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Blackburn — have won the title with Manchester United winning 13 times. Well over half!
However, Sir Alex Ferguson retired last year, so ManU are very unlikely to be as dominant in the future. To wit, they are already out of the title race this year.
National club football didn’t begin in Germany until 1963, when it replaced regional leagues. Bayern Munich didn’t win the title until the sixth year. Since then Bayern Munich has dominated. In fact, in the last 20 years, Bayern Munich has won 11 times.
The Eredivisie of the Netherlands formed a few years before the Bundesliga. Unlike Germany, however, the KNVB prohibited paying players until the Eredivisie began. As Dutch players were leaving Holland to get paid abroad, they had to form the pro Eredivisie.
Ajax dominates, and 90% of national titles have been won by the big 3 of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord Rotterdam.
France looks to be very egalitarian as seen through the champions of Ligue 1 since 1932.
It is probably worth noting that of all the Western European countries, France is definitely the nation which least cares about club football.
Only 5 teams have ever won the title in Portugal, and one of those won the title in the mid-40s (Belenenses).
98% of the titles have been won by Benfica, Porto or Sporting Lisbon, representing just two Portuguese cities.
Boavista won the title about a decade ago. In the midst of such dominance, that seems like an underdog story fit for a documentary.
Most people would probably be surprised to know that professional soccer in Turkey dates back to 1904. The Turkish Super Lig started in the early 60s, which is what I’m counting here.
Like Portugal, only 5 teams have ever won it all. Galatasaray, Fenerbahce, Besiktas, Trabanzspor, and Bursaspor. Bursaspor has only won it once.
Greek’s main competition turned pro in 1979. Since then Olympiakos has continued the dominance that it maintained before the professional era.
Only 5 teams have been the champions of Greece.
For the last couple decades, Argentina has used a funky system where they crown two champions per year. This increases the possibility of a smaller club being crowned the champion, and you can see it in this graph.
The professional era goes back to the 30s, while serious football goes back a few decades before that. Boca Juniors dominated River Plate in the decades before the pro era began.
Also, Argentine teams have been known to prioritize South American continental competitions over the domestic league.
Historically in Brazil the only competition which mattered was the state championship, particularly the Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro state championships. National and international titles were pretty far down the priority list.
In recent years, Brazilian soccer has changed. Still, much of this data reflects the reality that the Campeonato Brasileiro was not a big deal for decades after its formation in 1960.
Now for some quick apples-to-oranges comparison to US pro sports leagues:
The Celtics and the Lakers have almost half of all NBA titles! The Chicago Bulls are 3rd, but all 6 of their titles are from the Michael Jordan era. Likewise, Tim Duncan’s titles put the San Antonio Spurs into 4th place.
The Yankees win the World Series once every 4 years. After that, it’s pretty even. This only counts World Series winners.
Football is a very high-variance sport for any individual game, so it is not very surprising to see that there is a wide variation in Super Bowl champions. [I only used Super Bowl winners for this calculation.]
Until 1967, there were only 6 teams in the NHL: Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
As such, this chart only uses post-67 Stanley Cup winners. While the Montreal Canadiens look dominant, they have only won the title 2 times since 1980.
Conclusion: I want to make it clear that I’m not drawing any big conclusions about any particular country. But overall I found this data interesting to see.
UPDATE 2/27: My post on reactions to this post I saw yesterday on the interwebs.
[Welcome Marginal Revolution readers and thanks to Professor Cowen for the link! This post is “sponsored” by my day job at Ticketleap, so if you’re looking to sell tickets online, please check us out! We just released Selfie Tickets as a way for event organizers to invite their customers in to their event, face to face.]
Victory or Death: 178 years later
Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836
To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—
Fellow Citizens & compatriots—
I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — Victory or Death.
William Barrett Travis.
I’m now the proud owner of Ajitter.com
At a company meeting this week, Beah used the word “ajitter” and I thought it sounded like the perfect name for a tech startup.
So I registered ajitter.com for future use.
How Klaus Teuber tinkered his way to success with Settlers of Catan
How Klaus Teuber tinkered his way to success with Settlers of Catan:
In the eighties, Klaus Teuber was working as a dental technician outside the industrial city of Darmstadt, Germany. He was unhappy. “I had many problems with the company and the profession,” he told me. He started designing elaborate board games in his basement workshop. “I developed games to escape,” he said. “This was my own world I created.”
He tinkered with an island-settling game for four years, testing versions on his wife and children every weekend. Initially, the instructions included lots of complicated mechanics—for example, if you had enough cities and settlements in a cluster, you could create a metropole—but eventually, Teuber said, “I cooked it to the heart of the game.” A breakthrough moment came when Teuber experimented with using hexagonal tiles instead of squares for his board.
Distilled from the New Yorker article.
Speaking of, I need to find some people to play Catan with.
What happens when you overspend
Mary Anastasia O’Grady column in the Wall Street Journal:
According to UCLA professor Sebastian Edwards, author of the 2010 book “Left Behind: Latin America and the False Promise of Populism,” the habit of devaluation in Argentina dates back to the 1820s. In 1827, the paper peso that circulated in Argentina was devalued by 33.2%, Mr. Edwards says. In 1829 it was devalued by 68%. In 1838 there was a 34% devaluation, in 1839 a 65.5% markdown, in 1845 a 95% reduction and in 1851 a 40% devaluation. An 1868 currency board came unglued in 1876; another one, established in 1891, survived until 1914.
Argentina has had about 30 currency crises in the last 200 years, or about 1 every 7 years. Inflation and devaluation are the natural result of overspending.