"But the surprise is that almost all sports follow exactly the same law–the Pareto Principle. In other words, regardless of the sport, 20 percent of the players enjoy 80 per cent of the success and prize money.

Exactly how this rule emerges in sports with different rules, governing bodies and tournament structures is something of a puzzle.

However, it means there is certain predictability in the outcome of events in which two players are pitted against each other. To test the nature of this predictability, Deng and co have found a model that exactly reproduces the statistics of the real sport.

They make a few assumptions about the players involved, the most interesting being that the probability of one player beating another depends only on their difference in ranking. So the number 1 ranked player is just as likely to beat the number 10 player as the number 75 is of beating the number 85. In fact, the same probability applies to any two players separated by ten places in the rankings. "

"Universal Law Discovered for Player Rankings"





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  1. douglas roberts dimick on November 18, 2011 2:19 am

     Stay Outside Your Pony

    Variants of the Pareto Principle may be found in both natural and artificial constructs — perhaps functioning as a median outcome of life itself.

    The sports analogy embeds an output dualism within a two-dimensional input hierarchy, either as a natural or an artificial construct (or combination thereof) .

    Alpine downhill racing is a competition about one individual against another individual. Depending on the sanctioning authority of the event or league (e.g., Olympics, FIS, NASTAR), this "individual sport" recognizes the top three performers (on the podium) a la distribution of the associated rewards and prizes for superior output. Note that some consider this competition to be man versus mountain. Moreover, there is a coach-team dimension.

    Basketball is a team sport. Again, depending on sanctioning (e.g., Olympics, professional, collegiate), such games involve a group dynamic, otherwise, not "directly evident" within individual competitions — relative to generating output (or team scoring). See…

    The apparent phenomenon of the Pareto Principle as observed in this dual (individual/team) output may correlate to the second aspect, being (individual/format/team/coach/league) levels of input operating within the related constructs. For instance, polo involves the group dynamic of team sports given four players per team; however, team performance is predicated on a symbiotic relationship between each of the four players per time, often in juxtaposition to a player and his or her "string" of polo ponies.

    At the professional level of polo, a player strategizes for any given match based on the assumption of riding six ponies during the game — one per each chukker (or 7.5 minute period of play). Like the player, each pony has its strengths and weaknesses; that combination of both player and pony determines an individual’s (as well as impacts team) correlated output. Team strategy — such as maintaining and breaking the line of team players during offensive advancement from Player 4 to 3 to 2 to 1 to goal – may correlate to how well player and pony act as one while stampeding between peurets on a grassy, manicured battle ground,the length of four football fields.

    At first glance, the rules of polo as well as the nature of the game itself may be said to constitute an artificial (or man-made) construct. However, the game — known as "the king of sports and the sport of kings" — actually embodies the most (or second most when compared to procreation) natural construct of man… the conduct of war.

    While briefly stationed at Ft. Sill, I rode on the grounds where General Patton last played polo before his final deployment to Europe. One need not look any further than this man's history with sports to understand how player/team tiers relative to performance emphasizes those few (or top 10-20%) who consistently triumph.

    Hence, although the levels of complexity and intricacies may contrast among team and individual sports, we can see how any given player/team input hierarchy synthesizes individual and team efforts — as witnessed in polo. This Pareto-like assimilation in sports of top performers (or synonymous with leaders) parallels the notion that… armies win wars, but we remember the generals who commanded the decisive battles.

    Major Hugh Dawnay taught me the key precepts of polo. His standard for a player is “Stay outside your pony and always be adjusting.” See…

    Sports as with wars present a single challenge concerning the essence of winning and losing as analogous to life and death… Knowing the secret of steel. To understand this riddle, one must come to know onself (or Knosco Tiupsum). How do we do that in sports as well as in life itself?

    Staying outside your pony is not being a “ball-hog” or not “chasing the ball.” Always be adjusting is understanding (when not sensing) team or sport conditions precedent and trends a la the sanctioning body as well as among fans and media. The mastery of such skill and craft allows to each discover our own, individual answer to that riddle, the Riddle of Steel – hopefully both on and off the field.

    Immersed within all this dualistic and dimensional complexity, the Pareto Principle can not only be found but may be said to be essential for reinforcing the features and benefits of any given society that relies on distinguishing the winners from the losers – then again, perhaps it’s merely a matter of valuation…



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