Field Theory by Hadyn Green

17

Massive Fraud

Ever watched a game and thought that the ref was being a little easy on the home team? Ever thought that the ref was making a few “parking lot” calls? Well you’d be right.

Per Pettersson-Lidbom and Mikael Priks studied the effects of the crowd on refereeing in Italian football matches to see if the home crowd had an effect on the calls and, if so, how much an effect it might be and in which direction.

After a bout of hooliganism in early February, 2007, the Italian government began requiring soccer stadiums to fulfil certain security regulations; those stadiums that did not meet the requirements would have to hold their games without spectators. As a result, 25 games were played in empty stadiums that month allowing Petterson-Lidbom and Priks to examine game stats and see whether referees were more disposed toward the home team when the bleachers were filled with fans than when the stadium was empty.

The researchers looked at fouls, yellow cards, and red cards and found that referees were more likely to penalize the home team (and less likely to penalize the away team) in an empty stadium. They also noted that there did not seem to be any effect on the players from the crowd.

One of the interesting things in the results is that refs showed no favoritism toward the home team in games with spectators -- they handed out about the same number of fouls and cards to the home and away teams in those games. The bias shows up in games without spectators, where they hand out more fouls and cards to the home team. (The difference is not statistically significant in games with spectators but is in games with spectators.)

Or the refs had a bias against the home teams for not complying with the security rules. It’s the problem with causality in “natural” experiments.

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Texan billionaire, wife-grabber, and cricket fancier and financier Sir Allen Stafford has been charged with “massive fraud”.

The Texan financier was named in a complaint filed at a US federal court in Dallas and accused of "orchestrating a fraudulent, multi-billion dollar investment scheme". US District Judge Reed O'Connor has entered a temporary restraining order and frozen Stanford's assets.

Due to this turn of events the England and Wales Cricket Board has decided to cease sponsorship negotiations with Stafford for the 2010 English Premier League Twenty20 tournament. Frankly giving the current world economy if someone says they have loads of dosh to pour into sponsorship at the moment you should look at them sceptically.

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The Penrith Panthers have hired a gay male cheerleader for next season. Personally I couldn’t care less; cheerleaders for me are not part of sport. (Cheerleading is a type of gymnastics and so can be called a sport in itself however)

So Aaron Neich (video at the link) will be the first male cheerleader, gay or otherwise, for the Panthers, and he’s expecting some flack.

"I have had it all my life, I have grown up with getting names called, if people call me a gay poof, I am and I don't care. If you have got it, flaunt it."

But we should get something clear first; Panthers fans and rugby league fans in general will be throwing him flack and possible the occasional bottle because, and I speak in generic terms, they are munters. Secondly, Aaron could be the manliest guy wearing a singlet and sinking a VB while taking great pleasure in the fact that he gets to be in close physical contact with the other non-male cheerleaders, and the Penrith fans would still call him a “gay poof”.

Still good on the Panthers for hiring him, though they would’ve made a bigger stir by hiring a straight guy for the munter ladies to drool over.

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On yesterday’s very quick piece about the Chiefs having names on the backs of their jerseys, it seems I have a short memory (thanks Naly for the link). Anyone else remember names on the back of rugby jerseys?

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I’m going to be at Webstock on Thursday and Friday. Come up and say hello if you want. I look like this.

I will also cover any possible random breakout of a cricket game (which has been threatened) at the conference.

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