Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mathletics

I believe the sports media to be as misguided as the financial media. They both tend to ignore the role of luck/chance in outcomes, attributing causes and effects in wonky and often contradictory ways. But as you can find a lot of smart guys in finance who understand the challenges of separating out the skill from the luck, so you can find smart writers about sports who are doing the same. To that end, I became interested in reading Mathletics, which purports to explore counter-intuitive insights into the world of sports.

It was not exactly what I was looking for. The structure of the book was such that a number of topics are touched on rather briefly, not leaving the author a lot of room to dig deep into any one topic. I probably should have guessed at the author's breadth-over-depth choice by the subtitle "A Scientist Explains 100 Amazing Things About the World of Sports" but somehow I didn't.

The book is also rather heavily weighted towards international (specifically, Olympic) sports, rather than the North American pastimes in which I'm more interested. I also haven't a read a book with this many equations in it in a very long time.

If you're still somehow interested in reading the book after this rather cold review, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the book quite a lot!

2 comments:

Lucas said...

At first glance, I was quite excited, thinking that you had read Mathletics by Wayne Winston. I had no idea there was a book with the same title out there. The Winston book digs deeper and does a good job of showing one how to do the analysis. Not coincidentally, Mr. Winston also has a very good (and relatively inexpensive) excel teaching program through Harvard Business Review's site. The link to the book is below. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.amazon.com/Mathletics-Gamblers-Enthusiasts-Mathematics-Basketball/dp/0691154589

Saj Karsan said...

Looks good! Thanks, I'll check it out

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