At Stumbling and Mumbling Chris Dillow ruminates on “Norms, agency, and competition,” which is just some fancy econo-speak for a post about why football coaches prefer conventional strategies that reduce the chance of their team winning. Dillow notes David Romer’s work (via James Kwak) on American football, which shows coaches punt too often on fourth down, and research by Christian Grund and Oliver Gurtler on “proper football” (Dillow’s term), which shows coaches in the Bundesliga too often add an attacking player when down a goal even though it reduces their chance of winning.
Dillow notes the two responses are both the conventional approach, but observes that in American football the convention favors an overly conservative choice while in proper football (I’ll accept Dillow’s terminology) the convention favors a too risky approach.
For Dillow, “The question is: why? Is it because coaches are ignorant of the statistics and so follow herd mentality?” He doesn’t offer an answer, just a good question. It could be that the outside analysts are wrong, and coaches right, but then there should be a problem in the analysis to point to. Is there such a problem? (The Contingencies article notes that Texas Tech Red Raider coach Mike Leach is among coaches with a reputation for aggressive action on fourth down, but adds that even he doesn’t go for it as often as the statistics recommend.)
Interesting topics as the American football season gets underway, and most proper football leagues just underway.