Percy Ponders Sport’s Peculiarities




Watching Wimbeldon this year, it again aroused my longstanding mystery with the scoring system.

Why is the 15-30-40-game retained when it really makes no sense or logic? No point is worth any more than any other, is it?  Or am I missing something?  Why not a completely simplified method of 1-2-3- game?  A tie on three would still be deuce, but why do we need the differentiation on the earlier points?

I know it’s traditional and any change would represent a departure from the heritage of the game.  As a sporting conservative and traditionalist myself, I totally respect that. It’s cute – but does it really have any practical value?  It’s not that I would necessarily support any change in that direction, but like a lot of other issues in other areas of sport, I just wonder why, tradition aside, they are retained?

It’s not just tennis.

Why is it in cricket we have a twelfth man (or woman) who can come on and field when a player is injured, when that person is not allowed to bat or bowl?  Surely a full substitution as occurs in sports like AFL would make more sense?



Why is it that in rugby the scrum-feeds and line-outs aren’t done by a referee?  In theory, the player performing the task is required to do it fairly and not favour their own team, but that of course is farcical and never happens.

And why should the goal-kick after a try go to the team’s best kicker?  Surely the player scoring the try should have to take the kick?  Imagine the situation in AFL if any player taking a mark or getting a free kick within range could simply give the ball to the team’s best goal sneak?  (Mind you, some players like Nat Fyfe might like that innovation…).

While on AFL, why the necessity of four points for a win?  You get two points for a draw, but there is no situation where you can get one point.  Why not two points for a win and one for a draw?

And the concept of calling a point a “behind” has surely outlived any usefulness that it may have had, if any.  A goal is a goal and a point is a point, isn’t it?

Why is it in soccer that additional time for injuries or stoppages isn’t calculated exactly, rather than by the field umpire making an educated guess using an analogue wristwatch.  Surely the basketball and AFL method of calculating time-on clinically and exactly, to the fraction of a second, is a far better way?



Why, in horse racing, is protesting for foul play restricted to horses finishing in the first five?  If a horse is so badly interfered with that it misses the places then it can’t complain?  The implication of that is that if a jockey is minded to give a rival a decent hip-and-shoulder he or she should do it so severely that the rival finishes far enough behind to prevent any objections to the result.  Sure, the jockey might get a lengthy suspension as a result, but it hardly consoles the punters whose horse was pole-axed.  Not to mention the financial consequences to the connections of the fouled horse.

And returning to cricket, who can actually profess to really understand the intricacies of the Duckworth Lewis system of calculating the required score in a rain- shortened game?  Surely a simple calculation based on the average score per over might be much simpler and fairer?

Similarly, anyone who can explain the AFL draft, its interaction with free agency, the rookie list, the father-son rule and the mid-season draft, deserves a gold medal.



Then there is the offside rule in soccer and rugby.  Don’t start me.  To anyone brought up on AFL (or basketball) the rule seems to be non-sensical.  Why can’t a player find some space in the forward line ahead of any opposition player and score a goal?  It’s half the attraction of Aussie Rules and makes for a far more interesting contest.

And when it comes to punting, which for better or worse is now a feature of virtually all sport, how is it that the market on all (perceived) evenly matched games are always around $1.90 both sides?  In two-up games (the fairest medium in the betting spectrum) the betting is always even money ($2) on both.  The fact that anyone is ever prepared to bet at $1.90 is simply bewildering.

Call me a Sporting Philistine or a heretic, but these sorts of things seriously bemuse me.  The history and tradition of the various sporting codes is of course important.  So is the importance of the language and enduring culture of the games themselves.  I respect that.  But perhaps there comes a time when a more practical approach might be in the interests of the future of the games.  Purism notwithstanding, it might be worth some thought.


2 thoughts on “Percy Ponders Sport’s Peculiarities

  1. Not one to judge Tom Percy, but there’s a number error in 2nd sentence in par below. I suspect simply a typo or unedited:

    While on AFL, why the necessity of four points for a win? You get two points for a draw, but there is no situation where you can get one point. Why not two points for a draw and one for a draw?

    1. Thanks to eagle-eyed Brend. Have changed to, “Why not two points for a win and one point for a draw?” But still I may be cross examined by Mr Percy on this quandary. 🙂

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