Saturday, May 13, 2017

Learning Dispatch - May 13th 2017 - Money and Player Value in Sports


I want to understand how we can make our learning more social. I love having conversations with friends and colleagues about new insights and learnings. So these dispatches are part of an effort to get those conversations started. 

How do you determine the value of a player in a game of sport?

Money and Player Value in Football

Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski published Soccernomics in 2014. The books explores some counter intuitive truths about football. There were some passages that made me think about sport leagues and how top sports teams evaluate the worth of a player and set aside money to bring the best to their club/team.

On total transfer fees in 2013
"In 2013 clubs around the world paid each other about 2.2 billion pounds in transfer fees." (Kindle Location 200)

On buying the world's top ten players
"When the club does buy, it rightly tends to focus on 'top ten' players: men who are arguably among the ten best footballers on earth, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, Fabregas, Alves or Neymar. These players cost a lot, but the risk of their failing is small (unless you buy them when they are getting old like Thierry Henry). Part of being one of the ten best footballers on earth is that your perform almost whatever the circumstances." (Kindle Location 874)

On the money Real Madrid spends
"Real Madrid are of course the supreme consumer of shooting stars. This is largely because the club's fans demand it. Madrid (or Newcastle, or Marseille in France) probably aren't even trying to be 'rational' in the transfer market. The club's aim is not to buy the best results for as little money as possible. When their president Florentino Perez handed over a combined total of 136 million pounds for Christiano Ronaldo and Kaka in 2009, he probably suspected he was paying more for the duo than the benefit he was likely to get in results or higher revenues. But big signings of this type (like Newcastle buying fragile MichaelOwen from Madrid for 17 million pounds) are best understood as marketing gifts to a club's fans, sponsors and the local media." (Kindle Location 436)

On Arsene Wenger's Degree in Economics
"The master of that trade today is Wenger. Arsenal's manager is one of the few people in football who can view the game from the outside. In part, this is because he has a degree in economic sciences from the University of Strasbourg. As a trained economist, he is inclined to trust data rather than the game's received wisdom. Wenger sees that in the transfer market, clubs ten to overvalue a player's past performances. That prompts them to pay fortunes - in transfer fees and salaries - for players who have passed their prime." (Kindle Location 540)

Money and Player Value in Cricket

The Indian Premier League is a professional Twenty20 cricket league in India contested during April and May of every year by teams representing Indian cities. The league was founded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 2007. There have been nine editions of the IPL that have been organised between 2008 to 2017. Each team in the tournament can include four international players and seven domestic players. Every year an auction is held before the tournament where the 8 contesting IPL teams place bids for some of the world's top international T20 cricket players.

The Costliest Players in the T20 Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 Cricket Auctions were:
1) Ben Stokes to Rising Pune Supergiants for Rs 14.50 crores
2) Tymal Mills - Rs 12 crores
3) Kagiso Rabada - Rs 5 crores
4) Trent Boult - Rs 5 crores
5) Pat Cummins - Rs 4.5 crores

Statistics from the IPL about the the most valuable and highest paid cricketers in the IPL

Top Run Scorers in the IPL from 2008 to 2017
1) Virat Kohli - 4110 runs in  139 matches
2) Suresh Raina - 4098 runs in 147 matches
3) Rohit Sharma - 3874 runs in 142 matches
4) Gautam Gambhir - 3634 runs in 132 matches
5) Chris Gayle - 3426 runs in 92 matches

Top Wicket Takers in the IPL from 2008 to 2017
1) Lasith Malinga - 143 wickets in 98 matches
2) Amit Mishra - 124 wickets in 112 matches
3) Dwayne Bravo - 122 wickets in 106 matches
4) Piyush Chawla - 120 wickets in 123 matches
5) Harbhajan Singh - 119 wickets in 125 matches

How do you differentiate between one player and another player in a game of sports? Is it talent? Is it advanced motor-sensory coordination? Is it consistency at the domestic and international level? Is it a distinct physical advantage?

In this year's IPL, one of the commentators had asked Sachin Tendulkar who previously played for Mumbai Indians in the IPL,  how things have changed today in the world of sports in comparison to the older days when he used to play. He answered that there was so much data and analysis that happened before, during and after each game. This gave each player a lot more information about their performance and ways they can improve. So it becomes a lot harder to manipulate the system and move forward through connections or background.

Maybe your worth as a sports player is actually determined by how good you really are and if you are really good you get paid really well. 

For now I am just going to go back and keep watching the IPL. It is 9 pm on the 13th May, 2017 and Kolkata Knight Riders are at 86/4 chasing a score of 173 set by the Mumbai Indians in the first innings. Oh! Yusuf Pathan just hit a six. It looks like this game will go down to the wire too. 

13th May 2017

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