Saturday, July 5, 2014

Brief look at Soccer versus Basketball Foul Models

In Basketball, fouls are allowed up to a limit, and results in automatic penalties that turn into potential baskets and/or getting fouled out, once the limit is breached. Therefore, hoops foul-rules represent a capacitated model that comes with a marginal cost (dual value) and players have to pay a shadow price per foul and have to smartly manage this dual cost along as the game reaches its climax. In soccer, however, the foul model is uncapacitated, with little penalty unless it is a hard foul that invites a yellow or red card. In fact, soccer appears provide a net incentive to commit cynical and tactical fouls. Consequently, you often end up with foul-a-minute matches like the Brazil-Colombia world cup clash, where the game stops every few minutes and kills the momentum.

It's just not cricket
Soccer, like cricket, leaves part of the how ethically the game is played to the players. Cricket does this even more, and I personally love this decentralized approach that requires every individual to take responsibility for their actions to protect the integrity of their sport and their character (since it represents a dharma-karma like way of dealing with ethics), but off late, we see in both sports that this 'spirit of the game' has been sacrificed precisely when the stakes are the highest. Therefore, some centralized penalty approach that the American way of life prefers may be brought in to restore balance, unless the teams can reform themselves.  I personally prefer a capacitated foul model in soccer.

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