Surprises make soccer the best sport
BASEBALL has home runs, American football has touchdowns and basketball has slam dunks. But when it comes to which is the most exciting sport to follow, soccer takes the gold medal.
Eli Ben-Naim, Sidney Redner and Federico Vazquez at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico decided to look at unpredictability of results - how often a team with a worse record overcomes an apparently superior one - as the best measure of how exciting a league is. "If there are no upsets, then every game is predictable and hence boring," says Ben-Naim.
The team analysed results from more than 300,000 games over the last century from the US's national hockey, football, baseball and basketball leagues and the top English football league. Rugby and cricket were omitted because they do not have a big following in the US.
Their results showed that the "upset frequency" was highest for soccer, followed by baseball, hockey, basketball and finally American football. But when they looked only at data from the past 10 years, the English football Premiership and baseball swapped places, which suggests that soccer might have become more predictable in recent years.