I'm not a big soccer fan. But I am a huge sports fan. And what I love about sports, is the drama that unfolds before your eyes in each game, in each tournament, and in the evolution of a team or athlete's development, and better yet – what we can learn from the data behind these stories. The World Cup offers many such dramas, that are all being told in a variety of ways in news media, but for me, I picked up one stat that I thought was interesting to analyze further and see if it applies to other walks of life.
So, before the tournament started, our firm, like many companies and groups of people, started a tipping competition using one of those cool tipping apps. Each employee would guess the match results and other metrics, and we've been competing ever since, waiting anxiously for the game results and then dissing the losers, heralding the winners and secretly waiting for our big break.
I generally guessed based on my familiarity with the sport and the teams, but I also did some basic research. I checked what is the most prevalent score in soccer games. The data surprised me. Analyzing well over 200 thousand recorded big league and national games, the most prevalent score in a soccer match is 1:1. This occurs in 11% of all games, or 1 in 9 games. The score of 1:0 is a close second (occurs in 10.5% of games). The next on the list (2-1) already occurs in 8.5% of games, and the rest become insignificant in prevalence.
What got me thinking about this stat is the strangeness of it. I can see how evenly matched teams tie 0:0 (7.7% of games). But I would assume that in almost every single soccer game, teams are not really evenly matched. There is always a favourite – meaning, a team that is capable of kicking a goal and winning. Moreover, if they're coming into the game as the favourite and kick that goal, they're supposed to be incentivized to protect the lead or increase it, and they're supposed to have the on-paper advantage to do just that; certainly not concede the equalizer in a manner that makes the 1:1 tie the most prevalent result in soccer.
Conclusion? Psychologically, if you dismiss luck and randomness, the leader opts to protect the lead by shifting to defence. The leader gets too confident and loosens up on defence. The leader doesn’t elevate their game to match the heightened intensity of the team it just scored against, which is now facing the existential threat of losing.
The phenomena are not the astounding thing about all this. It all sort of makes sense, right? It's the prevalence of the materialization of these mental flounders that is interesting.
Thinking for a moment about the big-tech companies, startups and entrepreneurs with whom I work, I'm afraid to say that more than 11% of them rest on their laurels after a big win. Their "game" isn't limited to 90 minutes, but their less talented competition eventually ties the game when they let off on offence, or when they let their defence take a rest. In fact, it happens in business all the time. I wonder if there is a smart way to retain a consistent level of intensity over time when a company is leveraging its strengths in its ever-competitive engagement with the market, and I believe that cracking that is the key to winning the World Cup of the business world.
Written by Nimrod Vromen, CEO of Consiglieri Ltd and Partner at Arnon, Tadmor-Levy law firm.