Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton
pne

World champions

I have a philosophical problem with world championships such as the football one running right now, at least, if their aim is to select a “world champion”.

For me, that would imply that the “winner” is, by some objective, measurable standard, “the best”.

However, the way it is measured seems unsuitable to me.

For starters, it implies that there is a well-defined “better(team1, team2)” relation that can be measured—and that doesn’t depend on things like Tagesform (I don’t know of a good English word or phrase for that; basically, the way you feel on a given day, and/or the level of energy you have/the level you perform at on a given day). So I would think that something like “best 3 out of 5” (at least), ideally varying other conditions such as playing at least one game each in the team’s home and at least one somewhere else, would be needed between any two given teams to determine which of those two teams is “better”, rather than relying on exactly one game.

Also, the selection method seems to imply that “better(team1, team2)” is transitive: that is, if Team A is better than Team B and Team B is better than Team C, then Team A is better than Team C. Otherwise, you would have to have each team play every other team, rather than being able to do things like finals, where beating “the best of Group C” implies beating every team in Group C individually, thereby eliminating them all at once.

The fact that better(team1, team2) [or, more precisely, the relation that was tested during the current games, which is a proxy for better(team1, team2)] is not transitive can be seen easily in the group Germany played in: Germany won 4:0 against Australia, and Australia won 2:1 against Serbia, so Germany “should” win against Serbia—but in fact they lost that game 0:1.

So, while the current championship might make for lots of football viewing (for people who like that), as a measurement, I think it’s a sham and unsuitable, and the “winner” isn’t a meaningful relationship to anything in particular. (Not that that probably matters to most people who watch it.)

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