Reflections on the book project about football and betting
Ever since man has known – which supposedly distinguishes him from the animals – that there is a future, he has been preoccupied, sometimes more and sometimes less, with the thought of whether one can foresee things that will happen in that future. Now there are already some interesting considerations in this context: To what extent can one foresee one’s own fate? To what extent would that be desirable? Or also this: Can one look into the future in general? To what extent can one plan, foresee or predict coming events?
The progress in thinking, in knowing that there is a future, has also brought with it a form of uncertainty. We try to make things plannable, although in principle we feel that nothing is actually certain. Even when you make a banal, everyday appointment, you already know that there is no 100%, neither on your part nor on the part of the other person. But you would like to feel safe. And that’s what you do when you know what’s going to happen. Unfortunately, this is impossible. Nevertheless, one strives for as much of this security as possible.
So now there is personal fate and also quite general events, the occurrence of which, the outcome of which somehow preoccupies us, but which can’t even have an overly great significance. I mean, who wins the election can keep you busy for a few days, you can even make your voting decision dependent on rough forecasts (“if I vote Green this year, then maybe it’s worth it because they look good in the forecasts” or something like that), you can also make your decision, jumper or jacket, umbrella or sturdy shoes dependent on the weather forecast, but they are not such important decisions. When it comes to happiness in life, people sometimes consult their horoscope, a crystal ball, coffee grounds, believe in lucky numbers or try to find out in some other way (here too I have a philosophy that is certainly not entirely unknown: everyone who does it has the luck to live anyway. He just has to recognise it. Even in the events that happen to him, even if they look sad in the short term). But people like to hear that too, they look for orientation in it, perhaps they believe in it, but they know that they can be anything but safe with it. Of course, for many people religion is a (reliable) guide in this context.
But there are a number of future events whose prediction seems possible to some extent, in a mathematical sense. Many of these events are even artificially created to generate suspense. Take the drawing of the lottery numbers, the spinning of the roulette ball or even bingo, keno or other raffles. In games played among each other, the so-called parlour games, there is usually a combination of luck and skill, which on the one hand provides excitement, on the other hand also entertainment, but lastly also the determination of a winner, to whom one can then more or less often also ascribe a quality. In this context, we might mention Skat or Backgammon, Rummy or Canasta, Bridge, Monopoly or Mensch-Ärger-Dich-Nicht, even Mühle, Go or Chess. There is always a part of skill and a part also of chance, even if some of these games are considered pure games of skill, others pure games of chance. It is always a combination of these elements.
But in some games, the intention is actually to make them pure games of chance, on the part of the organiser. There, exact and precise equality of opportunity is to be maintained, so that the calculated advantage works out for the organiser, but there is still a good chance of winning for each individual, and these chances are also divided equally. These are the games Lotto and Roulette. There, the draws are monitored and checked for proper procedure, the roulette wheels are polished daily, the balls are checked for exact balance and whatever else. They are supposed to be pure games of chance. With the lotto, the underlying principle is an extreme redistribution of money, which makes individuals forget their considerable disadvantage (as is well known, only 50% of the stakes are paid out, This disadvantage is forgotten in view of the million(s) that one can theoretically win. In roulette, the extremely fair chance of winning, i.e. the good payout odds, makes it relatively easy for people to overcome this disadvantage with a little luck.
But now we finally come to the events that are partly artificial, but also partly simply traditionally organised. These are the sporting events. In addition, everyone usually participates in at least one sport, which then makes them participate anyway, but sports, as a mixture of games and competitions, but also art or circus, would also otherwise captivate us. The fact that we can admire the top performances and the top athletes, experience their emotions, but also our own emotions, is another aspect.
So these events are perfectly suited for people to follow them not only with great excitement anyway, with high participation numbers, but also with their own predictions for the winner, which can document an expertise that they can then compete with others again on a sporting level: Sports betting.
So now we are on the subject. And here, comparatively speaking, there is a broad field for possible forecasts. You can artificially create events on which bets are placed that go far beyond winners or losers. But often enough, you also have extensive data material that can give you clues for forecasts. So here we go: we try to forecast sporting events.