Se Su Sy


Everything is subjective. Nothing is objective. People mistake high convergence for objectivity. Everything you see, hear and feel is subjective. It is your brain who creates your subjective experience. You have a Bayesian brain that creates expectations on the one hand and processes sense data on the other.

Given that everything you read and all the stories you hear, are also part of your subjective experience, there is no way to escape subjectivity. Nor is there a need to escape it. Everything you want to achieve with objectivity can be achieved with convergence.

That a ball shot in the air, falls back to the ground is not an objective truth, but only we can all agree on. So this is an example of high convergence.

That it is extremely unlikely that a ball once shot in the air, will continue to hover in the air, is again not objectively the case. It is only another example of high convergence.

That flipping a coin will have a 50% chance of heads, is not an objective truth, but again only an example of high convergence.

In every case where someone might want to use the label “objective”, in reality it only means high convergence.

But there is way less convergence on whether Manchester City is going to win the Champions League this season. So no matter whether you agree or disagree, your viewpoint is considered more subjective and less objective. In reality there is no difference to the level of subjectivity (all statements and situations are completely subjective), there is only a difference in the level of convergence.

The higher the convergence, the more people mistake that high convergence for objectivity. The lower the convergence, the more people mistake that low convergence for subjectivity. Again, in reality there is only subjectivity and high or low convergence. There is no objectivity.

Subjectivity in football

In almost all cases there is a very high correlation between the level of convergence and whether people consider something, wrongly, subjective or objective. But this is less the case in football. Although there is very high convergence on match dates, teams involved in the match and the final outcome and result, there is way less convergence on almost everything else.

Many data providers claim to be objective. This is not the case at all, as we have seen. The best they could claim is that there is high convergence on their data. That is one of the reasons why the present themselves as objective and why they are so vigorously trying to convert people to adapt their way of looking at football. But in reality there is way less convergence about almost all their data. 

Let’s look at passing. Can you objectively count all the passes in a match? No you can’t. First of all because there is no such thing as objectivity. But more importantly, to count passes you first have to define what a pass is. The easy way to see how much subjectivity there is in pass counting, is to try and define a cross pass, long pass or key pass. Depending on your definition you get a different count. Other people might disagree with your definition and thereby decreasing convergence. But even if they agree with your definition, they might disagree as which passes fall within your definitions and which fall outside of them, thereby decreasing convergence even further.

Even if you only look at simple passes there are tricky situations. Do you allow for passing to yourself? If not, would a pass to yourself then be considered a dribble? Again, all grounds for disagreement and a further decrease of convergence. Can I pass to another player by ricocheting the ball of an opponent? Would that still be counted as a pass or not? As you can see even such seemingly simple task as counting passes, leads to disagreement and a decrease of convergence.

Where passes are relatively easy, things get even more complicated when trying to count duels, interrupts or interceptions. But then we can even go to a higher level to find more disagreement by asking: is it really smart to count? Or should we weigh of judge players actions? And then we can look at a game at an even higher level and ask the question: are actions really important or do we need to look at results and player contributions to those results instead? 

It doesn’t matter how you answer these questions. What matters is that within football many people come up with different answers. There is a lot of disagreement in football. That is a good thing by the way, because it makes football a very interesting activity. If we would all agree on everything than everybody would play the same and football would be much more boring. So disagreeing about these kinds of questions is a good thing! Yet, at the same time these differences also make clear how much disagreement there is and how little convergence. 

To sum up: everything is subjective, but our ideas about some things have a high convergence. This high convergence is often mistaken for objectivity. But in football we might even be wrong about the level of convergence. Convergence in football is much lower than some people assume. And that is a good thing: it makes football very interesting.