Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fairness in Sports: A Modest Proposal

To increase agricultural output on a fixed amount of land, you increase labor and fertilizer. If a nuclear limitation treaty limits the number of missiles, a nation that wants to maintain its arsenal does it by increasing the size of warheads, the number of warheads per missile, or both.

Consider the same principle in the context of sports. A football team faces an artificial constraint on the resources used to produce victory—it is only allowed eleven men on the field at a time. It responds, naturally enough, by making them big men. Very big.

The obvious solution to the manifest unfairness of this result—blatant bigism—is a small change in the rules. Instead of limiting the number of players on the field, limit their total weight. A team is allowed to have up to 2400 pounds of players on the field at one time. That can be a ten man team averaging 240 lbs, a fifteen man team averaging 160 lbs, or any other mix that produces the same total. For basketball, perhaps the constraint should be on total height instead of total weight.

It should be interesting.

14 Comments:

At 12:16 PM, May 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Tyson Vs 10 toddlers would make a hell of a match.

 
At 12:30 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger akqjterrence said...

Have you ever seen what athletes who have to cut weight have to go through to make a certain weight? It's not pretty. Having a football team starve and dehydrate themselves to exhaustion and then watching them go out and play 60 minutes would not be pretty.

 
At 1:08 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger jimbino said...

And in buying an airline seat, a small person should be able to bring along several babies or even some dogs and cats.

 
At 2:01 PM, May 21, 2009, OpenID rickthefightguy said...

Or you could limit the amount of money worth of contract allowed on the field at any moment. 8 Superstars, or 20 average guys.

Or assign a points value to each player based on their stats, and each team could have a certain points value total on their team.... and then you are playing Warhammer.

 
At 3:10 PM, May 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's actually a fair amount of diversity in football body types, because of the specialization of different positions. A running back needs to be strong and fast, but not tall. A receiver needs to be tall and fast, but not strong. A lineman needs to be big and strong, but not fast. And so on.

 
At 4:30 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Brian Dunbar said...

That would be interesting, indeed.

I think the rules might need to be juggled a bit - iirc some of them are based on the number of players.

Have you ever seen what athletes who have to cut weight have to go through to make a certain weight?That's easy to foil: measure the weight averages two weeks before the first game.

 
At 5:45 PM, May 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It'd be interesting to see the standards used to measure height and weight. Charles Barkley was listed at a generous 6'6" during his playing career. He's actually closer 6'4". There are plenty of athletes who lie about their height and are actually much shorter (or in weight cases, much heavier) than their "official" listings.

 
At 6:19 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger Iapetus999 said...

I think speed, strength, and ability are as valuable if not more so than size in most sports. Otherwise all football players would be sumo wrestlers. Weight is only of benefit to a few key positions (linemen). By only limiting one axis, it doesn't accomplish much, and IMHO makes the game worse. Who wants to see 20 midgets scrambling around and fumbling the ball when I paid to see well-trained professional athletes in their best possible physical condition?

 
At 7:44 PM, May 21, 2009, Blogger blink said...

These ideas are interesting and rightly point out other relevant variables besides number of players on a side. Number of players has as important advantage: it is almost impossible to game. With weight and perhaps even height, players will have an incentive to stretch the measurements. As another commenter mentions, athletes in several sports already play weight cutting games and this is generally negative sum compared to a situation in which no one cuts weight. The appropriate analogy would be comparing taxes on perfectly inelastic goods to taxes on more elastic goods.

 
At 8:06 AM, May 22, 2009, Blogger Steamboat Lion said...

I have a similar concept for basketball. I call it the 30ft rule (5 men x 6 ft = 30 ft). You want to put a guy who is 7 ft tall on the field. Fine. But you better put on another guy who is 5 ft tall.

 
At 12:38 PM, May 22, 2009, Anonymous Granite26 said...

I like the idea, although maybe not in practice.

Submersion BMI measurements could be used to limit teams to a specific muscle mass to avoid weight dumping issues?

 
At 3:19 PM, May 23, 2009, Blogger Mike said...

This reminds me of the documentary Murderball. It is an excellent film about quadriplegic athletes playing a type of basketball. Each player is assigned a point value based on how much dexterity they have in their arms, with each team allowed a maximum number of points on the court at a time.

 
At 5:14 PM, June 15, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you could do this for the lines, but in pass patterns and pass coverage you can't balance weight against weight, you pretty much need one person to cover each receiver (you can play zone, but if your outnumbered they will find open spots in the zone). Wide receivers and (esp.) cornerbacks who cover them, tend to be smaller than the average player anyway. I imagine if you could get extra players by making them even smaller, you would have an NFL made up of a bunch of small people instead of a lot of large people.

- Tim Fowler

 
At 2:30 PM, August 16, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How 'bout cheerleaders? One nude hottie and nine huddled masses in burquas; or ten ok gals with bare arms and legs.

 

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