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Misc.

Map of Premier League Teams

Speaking of soccer (football), if you enjoy the English Premier League but wonder where some of the more obscure teams are located, check out this helpful map. While most non-British fans know which teams are in London and which are in Liverpool and Manchester, fewer are familiar with the locations of teams like Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, and Hull City.

You can find more geographic/sporting goodness ((Other leagues that are mapped out here include various soccer leagues, the US’s big four — MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL — as well as…the European Poker Tour.)) on the Sport Map World home page.

(Link via my college teammate Danny S. at The New York Fitness Institute blog.)

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Misc.

“Goalkeeper Science” in the NYT’s 2008 Year in Ideas

As I may have mentioned in the past, I’ve been a soccer (football) goalkeeper since the age of 7. I can’t get enough of the game, and I absolutely love goalkeeping. (I still play regularly today.) ((A few of my favorite goalkeeper-related Web sites include The Glove Bag — an exceptional online community of goalkeepers — and the news blogs The Goalkeepers’ Union and JB Goalkeeping Blog. And if you’re seriously into the philosophy of goalkeeping, I recommend this manual: “The Art of Goalkeeping or The Seven Principles of the Masters.”)) So I was delighted to see that, according to the New York Times, one of 2008’s big ideas that begin with the letter “g” — along with topics like genopolics, gallons per mile, and the guaranteed retirement account — is goalkeeper science:

What’s the best way to stop a penalty kick? Do nothing: just stand in the center of the goal and don’t move.

That is the surprising conclusion of “Action Bias Among Elite Soccer Goalkeepers: The Case of Penalty Kicks,” a paper published by a team of Israeli scientists in Journal of Economic Psychology that attracted attention earlier this year. The academics analyzed 286 penalty kicks and found that 94 percent of the time the goalies dived to the right or the left — even though the chances of stopping the ball were highest when the goalie stayed in the center.

If that’s true, why do goalies almost always dive off to one side? Because, the academics theorized, the goalies are afraid of looking as if they’re doing nothing — and then missing the ball…

(To read the rest of the entry, visit the link above and then choose “g” in the navigation bar. Sadly, there’s no direct link.)

For more on this subject, I recommend this blog post: “The Rationality of Soccer Goalkeepers” ((Insert joke about all goalkeepers being necessarily — and perhaps genetically — irrational here.)) ((And if you want to see a photo of yours truly saving a penalty kick several years ago in Taiwan — and I apologize in advance for the tight goalkeeping pants, but it was cold and the pitch was terrible — click here.))

This study illustrates the tension between internal(subjective) and external (objective) rationality discussed in my last post: statistically speaking, as a rule for winning games, to jump is (externally) suboptimal; but given the social norm and the associated emotional feeling, jumping is (internally) rational.

(Hat tip to B.L. for the NYT link. Image credit: Flickr.)

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Misc.

StateStats: Analyzing Google search patterns

Now that the airports have re-opened here in Thailand ((The latest news from Bangkok: The revered Thai King — the world’s longest reigning monarch — failed to deliver his annual birthday eve speech on Thursday. There was a huge amount of anticipation regarding his remarks, as he was expected to weigh in on the ongoing Bangkok protests. The King, who turned 81 yesterday, was apparently too ill to speak. And yesterday, exiled prime minster Thaksin Shinawatra’s ex-wife returned to the country. For an overview of the situation in Thailand, I suggest this recent AP story: “Travelers leave behind a Thailand still in crisis“)), I wanted to point out an intriguing tool: StateStats.

The site allows you to compare Google search patters for various US states; the terms are also linked with other demographic data ((But take the demographic info with a grain of salt. From the site: “Be careful drawing conclusions from this data. For example, the fact that walmart shows a moderate correlation with “Obesity” does not imply that people who search for ‘walmart’ are obese! It only means that states with a high obesity rate tend to have a high rate of users searching for walmart, and vice versa…”))

Some search terms that caught my eye include:

Thailand
Thailand (popular in Hawaii)
Thai cuisine (big on the west coast)

Food
In searching for Southern food, I noticed that fried chicken is a popular search term in the south, as is pecan pie. And it’s no surprise to note that South Carolina is the clear winner in searches for grits, shrimp and grits, and Frogmore stew ((Here’s more info on Frogmore Stew.)). On the other hand, vegan is a popular query in Oregon and Vermont.

Media and the Internet
The Wire is a popular search term in Maryland (the show is based in Baltimore), while Sopranos is big in New Jersey, New York, and surrounding states. Various Web/tech-related search terms, meanwhile, are especially popular in the West and in New York. Twitter is big in the Pacific region, in New England, and in Texas (though the more generic microblogging is huge in California, as is WordPress); Flickr is big on the West coast and in New York; and Tumblr is especially popular in New York.

Misc.
Other terms worth a look: Soccer is a popular term in the Northeast, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are both popular terms in California and Virginia. And in other long-running football (soccer) derbies, Virginia is also prominent: check out River Plate and Boca Juniors.

Dogs are big in the south and mid-west, while cats are extremely popular in New Hampshire. Saab is also a popular term in New England, while Volvo is a popular query on both coasts.

Searches for some of the Andean nations reflect an interesting pattern: Bolivia is a popular term in Virginia and Florida, while Ecuador is big in New York and the mid-Atlantic. (New York is home to many Ecuadorian immigrants.)

And, last but not least, Newley (pictured above) is a popular search term in New York, Texas, and California. ((I suspect that these are not searches for newley.com, but for Anthony Newley. Or perhaps they’re misspellings of the adverb newly.))

(StateStats link via Kottke, where you can find a list of other revealing queries.)

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Misc.

Football (Soccer) Ballet

The Times: “High-kicking new life into beautiful game”

Think you’ve seen Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God”? Of course you have. But probably not as danced by a tiny ballerina in a short frilly tutu, raised high into the air by men in tights, slapping an imaginary ball into an imaginary net. To the strains of Nessun Dorma.

“You’ve got to be a highly polished athlete as a dancer and as a footballer. You need discipline, technique, teamwork and a few players of genius, and both careers are short,” Wayne Eagling, the artistic director of the English National Ballet, said.

Eagling’s company has created The Beautiful Game: A Football Ballet, a 15-minute work commissioned by The New Football Pools to showcase ten iconic moments as voted for by 20,000 visitors to the Pools’ website.

(Emphasis mine.)

The (understandably) England-centric moments reproduced in the ballet include:

  • Gazza’s tears in the 1990 World Cup semifinal
  • Maradona’s “hand of God” goal (context here) in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal — though his “Goal of the Century” (clip, context) from the same match didn’t make the cut, apparently
  • David Beckham’s free kick against Greece that sent England to the 2002 World Cup

    (Sadly Fortunately, one of the most memorable moments in goalkeeping history has been snubbed also been featured. I refer not to England’s Gordon Banks denying Pele in the 1970 World Cup — the so-called greatest save of all time — but to Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita’s scorpion kick in 1995.)

    Thanks to A for the link.

  • EDIT: fixed the above — the scorpion kick was, indeed, reproduced 🙂

    Categories
    Misc.

    Messi’s Argentina Advance in Olympics

    Speaking of football (soccer), here’s a New York Times interactive feature called “An Argentine Advance.” It’s about Argentina’s pint-sized playmaker Lionel Messi (Wikipedia page, highlights on YouTube) and his team’s dominant performance at the Olympics yesterday. The masterful Argentines beat rivals Brazil 3-0 (match report here) to book their place in Saturday’s final against Nigeria. Messi, who plays his club football at FC Barcelona, figured in all three goals.