MONEYBALL COMES TO SOCCER. Simon Kuper had an article in the Financial Times (February 6) about how European soccer clubs are paying spending much less money to buy players than they had in recent years. He argues that clubs are learning from statistical studies which show that “Transfers rarely help teams.” He cites one study that between 1978 and 1997 expenditures on transfers explained only 16% of total variation in league position. (Kids, you will see that there are causation problems—are weaker teams forced to spend more to try to catch up?) The article quotes a Barcelona official who argues that there are problems with new players who have to adjust and cites a “One-second Rule”: If a player delays one second in deciding which player to pass to, that’s the difference between winning and losing. Familiarity with your teammates makes for quicker decisions.

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