Friday, May 8, 2009

A Measure of Referee Directed Irrationality

I've long argued that one exemplary case study for irrationality can be found in individual's responses to referees. My personal experience as a youth soccer referee led me to believe that if your measure of success is the reactions of players, parents, and coaches, there is simply no way to succeed. On one occasion I recall a parent yelling at me after the game about some stupid call on the way back to the parking lot, following an upperhouse (i.e., not the highest level) under-10 soccer game. Of course, I may have simply been a bad referee, but that strikes me as unlikely because I witnessed it happening to my fellow soccer referees as well.

You can measure an individual's level of irrationality towards referees in real life based on how they respond to referees in sports video games. You will find that, especially in basketball, people often complain about the calls being made. Of course, there is no a priori reason for the game's algorithms to favor one player over another, so we can prove that this is completely ridiculous. Whereas in real life we must face the confound of the complainers actually having a point. If you find yourself or your friends complaining about the referees in sports video games, that should be strong evidence to you of their irrationality in this regard, and you should feel free to generalize this both to real life responses to referees and indeed other random walk based outcomes as well.