Despite its appearance, this post isn't really about American football.
On Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts played the New England Patriots in the NFL. It was a close game, and the result was apparently significantly influenced by one decision from Bill Belichick, the Patriots head coach. Towards the end of the game, he had one of two choices: a low risk tactic or a high risk one (I suspect people either know what those choices were or don't care, so I won't go into them here). One thing the statistical community built up around American football have been saying for the past few years now is that teams are too risk averse: ie they would do better if they used higher risk tactics more than they currently do.
What happened in this case was that Belichick went for the high risk tactic, and it failed: the Colts went on to win the game. This decision has been pretty much universally panned
by the media, despite the fact that the stats community
are saying the decision didn't actually make that much difference. Of course, the media (and fan) reaction goes a long way to explaining why NFL coaches are more risk-averse than they "should" be, but I still find in surprising that there's such hostility to a decision which by the best objective measures we have wasn't obviously wrong, especially after Moneyball
. But that may be because I'm a stathead.