I have always admired Stephen Hawking, a man who has and is achieving so much for mankind despite significant disability. When I heard that he had turned his wonderful mathematical brain to calculate the chances of an England victory at World Cup, and on how to succeed in a penalty shoot-out, I had to find out more about his 19 page summary.
These are some of his fascinating findings;
England win more playing a 4-3-3 formation and win more when they wear red rather than white.
Happily for the players he says that there are no significant improvements in results when the wives and girlfriends are kept away.
He reveals that a 5 deg centigrade rise in temperature reduces the chance of an England victory by 59% and that the team only wins 31% of matches at altitudes above sea level.
A European referee results in a 63% chance of victory.
Hawking studies every single penalty shoot-out since they were introduced in Argentina in 1978.
He said success came from giving the ball “some welly”, and that “velocity is nothing without placement”.
He said: “If only I had whispered this in Chris Waddle’s ear before he sent the ball into orbit in 1990. Use the side foot rather than laces and you are 10% more likely to score.
“The statistics confirm the obvious. Place the ball in the top left or right hand corner for the best chance of success – 84% of penalties in those areas score. The ability of strikers to place the ball results in them being more likely to score than midfielders and defenders.”
The study goes on to say that past evidence shows that the climatic and altitude conditions are likely to cause a significant issues against Italy in Manaus.
All fun and a nice bit of statistical frivolity in the days before the World Cup starts or it was until went on to read that this was sponsored by betting company, Paddy Power.
I find the fact that a national treasure who is renowned for intelligence has succumbed to such a link up with the betting industry, an industry which is destructive to so many lives, as being distasteful. His fee may have gone to charity but by promoting an industry that persuades many who to risk money that they can’t afford to risk the social damage is likely to outweigh any fee.
The gambling industry is like the tobacco industry in its prime when it ignored the damage it caused in the pursuit of rising profits. It is taking advantage of cheap rents to proliferate retail streets with betting shops. It is actively targeting young teenagers by working with race courses to put young dance nights alongside race nights. Chase and Status and the like, do you know what you’re doing? Severe gambling addiction doubled from 2007 to 2013 to over 500,000 people.
It’s time to tax the betting industry with such punitive taxes that only the rich can afford to gamble. I know that some would say that this will drive it underground well is there proof from elsewhere that this has happened?
And a counter argument is that The National Lottery is gambling and it provides positive outcomes for society. I agree, maybe the Paddy Powers of this world could all become not for profit companies and all profits could go to community causes?