Time and Chance Happen to them all

I returned and saw under the sun that—
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favour to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all. –Eccl 9:11

Tim Harford writes in his FT column

“Useless tosser” is a popular epithet for cricket captains with a knack for losing the coin toss and thus allowing their opponents to decide whether to bat or to bowl first. Winning the toss is not always an advantage but, depending on the weather conditions, it can give the winner a significant edge.

He then goes on to give an economic solution to remedy this by proposing an aution where a team if it wishes to bowl or bat first due to the conditions quantifies and gives the opposing team a certain number of runs. The thrusth here seems to somehow level the playing conditions so that an arbitrary decision like a coin toss does not influence the outcome. I am sure a Duckworth-Lewis rule can also be created that exactly quantifies what an overcast condition is worth in terms of runs. While we are at it I think we should also do away with uphill and downhill lies in golf or even better do away with the rough after all some players get a nice lie while other have their ball buried. Absolutely intolerable!

This is one more silly suggestion of trying to banish away uncertainty in our lives and somehow level the playing field. When will we ever learn that risk cannot be endlessly moved around either through market mechanisms or fancy statistical models. When will we learn to appreciate that sports like life is not trying to somehow drain of all uncertainity and create some kind of a perfect playing field, but about dealing with what is thrown at us. It is about playing the game with the hands dealt to us and not obsessing about whether we can create eliminate all uncertainities.


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