« Freakonomics Radio

275. An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl (Rebroadcast)

2018-02-02 | 🔗
We assembled a panel of smart dudes -- a two-time Super Bowl champ; a couple of N.F.L. linemen, including one who's getting a math Ph.D. at MIT; and our resident economist -- to tell you what to watch for, whether you're a football fanatic or a total newbie.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium: dot, com, promo code, freak thanks to their progress, listeners and happy Superbowl weekend. We thought it might be nice to replay for you with some slight updates. An episode we first put out last year called an egg heads guide to the Superbowl Superbowl Sunday has become a sort of secular holiday, United States, with more than a hundred and ten million people watching the game on tv. As with any audience that large is bound to be a lot of variance among the viewers. You ve got a hard core fans, especially of the teams involved this year. The noon then patriots again
and the Philadelphia Eagles, you ve got the people who, like football well enough, but aren't fanatics Then there is a large swathes of people who probably don't much much football at all their primarily. Therefore, the party chicken wings, or maybe their new to this country, release new to the sport and have no clue as to how american football even works. So we thought what can we hear at for economic freedom? due to make this secular holiday little more enjoyable for everyone. That's why we assembled a few very bright people, including a current NFL player to former players, one them a two times, Superbowl champion the other mathematician and because this is for economic radio peach economists who taught you right after this I'm happy!
From W and Y see studios. This is freakin comics radio podcast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Dogma for our egg heads guide to the Superbowl will start with our resident egghead Steve. Let it a donor lever. Is my for economics friend and co author he's an economist at the see if Chicago so Levitt. I've known you a long time and I know you ve written a lotta papers on different sports and elements of sports, Summa wrestling and soccer, and sports gambling for instance. But honestly, if someone were to ask me, Hey Steve Lever, a sports fan, I don't really know, I dont think you actually enjoy
changes to watch very you, dont really enjoy rooting for a team. Anything plebeian like that deal with a sad part as I used to, I grew up as a huge sports fan and then before I wrote papers on sports gambling, I did a lot of sports gambling myself and and other sports gambling was really really fun. The problem with it was that, once you start Pentagon sports, it became at least for me. I think most people hard to maintain any kind of loyalty, to the home teams. Like the Minnesota Vikings at the twins that I grew up living so much and and even though I no longer gamble on sports, I've never been able to get back my mojo when it comes to really caring about a team just for the sake of caring about eighteen. So considering that you don't love watching the game just for this, the game or the competition, nor your team, whatever our their ways that you enjoy
it anyway or the things that you look for whether they're kind of brain puzzles are kind of bets against yourself to see. You know if Ex happens will lie happen so on. I don't do anything is intellectual as as all that, but I do us a super bowl and there are at least two things about the Superbowl, which, at least for me, give me a source of entertainment when I watch the games now. The first of these, of course is the ads in. There is really nothing else in the world like Super bowl, ads and Andrew. I love that too. Much is partly because I know so much effort has gone into them, partly because their summit, creativity and partly to them. I always indue, focus and the intellectual side of wondering whether the ad will actually work and its an interesting problem in general, it's very hard to figure out where their advertising works in practice it's extremely difficult to know whether something like a Superbowl, add actually works.
and I M in a time were now this year. I think the thirty seconds Superbowl spot will be sent for five point: five million dollars. It's a good question to ask whether or not indeed, the investment that the firms are making these add pay off into. As I watched the ads I'm always, I entreat you to think about whether or not there is any conceivable way that the add that you're seeing might be too a positive, our ally for the advertisers. So that's one thing to think about during the Superbowl speech, if you're not that interested in the football, but what about the football? Let's introduced the rest of our egghead panel, all of whom are quite qualified on that front. my name is John Herschel. I may appear she soon MIT and applied Mathematics, Eric Winston, Am I right tackle for the Cincinnati bangles? And I the President of the NFL Pierre. Just in talk former enough,
I'll, be for them now warden and be a student, so we ve got Eric Winston. The president of the NFL Players Union, just in talk of Wharton MBA candidate with two Superbowl rings for than your giants, in John Herschel of former Baltimore Ravens Lineman, who started on his phd while playing in the NFL he retired. Last summer after study came out linking football brain damage. We talked him about that in our episode called how much brain damage do. I have surely these guys recommendation for what to watch for. The same is Steve Limits, and yet it it does not matter how much or how football. You know you will enjoy the commercials. I can assure you when they go to commercial break. This is not your to get up and go to the bathroom and let's go get some like chips in depth. Watch the half time shouts great they have time shows phenomenal, though the commercials
right through the commercials are really funny. Autumnal appeared to the commercials the parcels Rudy Ok, so watch the commercials, as for the game itself will start with what to watch, for, if you know absolutely nothing about the sport of american football I'd, say it so very much somewhere to Rugby John. The mathematician except does the main differences are when you have the ball and you get tackled, they actually stop place. A rubber you nodes, continuous play, they actually stop play and it's a lot of set pieces which allow people who don't watch football in a lot of international people? They think it's kind of strange that thing it's kind of slow, but I think the thing to watch for and appreciate the fact that, because football is broken up into these bits of like seven, eight second plays with these breaks in between, in those seven and eight seconds,
you get to see so much at, let us ism and just so much physical tell it. That makes it a much higher quality, seven or eight seconds broken up than if you watch an entire rug became throughout or attire soccer game throughout. I can tell you that on every single play, if you watch it closely and you really pay attention to the players, you will see amazing feats of athleticism every single play which I can't safer every single minute of, say: Westerham verses are, I would say. If you don't know anything about the game right, you oughta Polly, what's the person with the bar? That's just in tuck played nine seasons with the New York Giants and two with the open writer like our near a sinner. Has the ball. First, he's gonna snap to the core back inside capacity. he's in the short or on the centre then from there, it was a run played
nobody's gonna, have also to run back to the past by the corresponding dropped back and figure out. What is the best option for him to disperse the ball to another player? If you actually want to watch the game, step one, don't bother a guy. That's really watch him again to explain its eight of its Eric Winston, like that is the worst like weaken you that have die, we just right in the middle of the series. Don't start play. What's that mean or whatever so that step one if you're a novice order, you don't really care about the game. I have often been told and read the offensive. Linemen are on average the smartest guys on any football team. Is that true? And if so, wise at coppers, without about where the smartest guys in the field of data they were pretty bright, John Herschel was also an offensive lyman I mean I hate to judge people just base off their position group, but I like to think we ve got some pretty smart guys, sir,
I would agree with that in that you don't be an often Suleiman quires, more kind of mental function In a given game then say playing as a defence: why men or linebacker or defence of back- and that's certainly true- you have to know your silence knew all these plays be able to see what the defences doing make adjustments and then to be all on the same page. All five of you, because all it takes is one of you to mess up and the whole play is just ruined as opposed to on defence. All it takes is one of you to make an amazing play and the who plays just brilliant. I asked just in talk the same question. If often of linemen are on average, the smartest group on the field, he remember, was a defensive Lyman. I would say, as a group they probably are really. I can't believe you're given until I'm just like lightweight meeting any finnish things as individuals dough me out
I say, although alarm and hath being yo see caliber smarts, where you get guy the descent of precision, polyester, B, B, B b, plus type quarterback, has a beef, probably a but obviously they're gonna say I heard you talking too pretty girl and so argued at all, but a whole argued at all. So if you are a football novice and you're watching the Superbowl now you ve got a few things in your pocket watch. He adds, of course, during the game, watch the ball, but also take advantage of the stop and start nature of the game that seventy eight seconds of amazing athleticism and finally, if you're looking to impress someone tell him how the office of linemen, the huge gentlemen up
to protect the quarterback and clear the path for runners have. They are probably the brightest guys on the field. All right, then, what? If you already know a fair amount about the game? We asked out eggheads what you should watch for John Urschel. First. I think one thing, that's always interesting to think about that. I think the regular fan, who watches a lot of football doesn't kind of put in their head is think about the kind of chess match going on here. Think about the actual strategies that the team have and try to think about What wins and loses a football game because you're a football fan, you watch all these games you root for your team. You know you're a die, hard fan, but really what are the fundamental things that win and lose football games, and what are the critical moments and how do you know them when they get there? awareness of what? How do these wins? ass is really really come about,
To that end, just in tuck suggests you look for patterns in how a given team handles different situations. As a game goes on, you can figure out dependent on what a team and done earlier and again Roddy would come back to do something you later in a game. That way, I will say, look at personnel like weather, Norman Thornton, now you're gonna be more pass. An attack, type of offence and obscene defence. They're gonna be more in the nickel pragmatism and trying to stop the past Eric Winston as some simple but useful advice for a fairly knowledgeable football fan work who affects the middle of the pocket
meaning, meaning that what we see what team can make the quarterback move horizontally this year. That means the Eagles quarterback Nick Foals is playing in his first Superbowl and the Patriots Tom Brady playing in his record sitting. Eighth Superbowl Tom does a phenomenal jobs, what they call stepping up in the pocket, meaning that once the ball husband snapped and the quarterback down field, he moves upward and the pocket usually right to the direction of where the ball was snapped, fry the centre, a steps up and is looking to make a good frozen as it's easier to make a throw in your shoulders are perpendicular too. I'm a scrimmage and you can follow through so, if you're affecting that ability, especially for tom-
making him move sideways, he doesn't throw the ball as well. If this actual football stuff doesn't move, you Eric Winston had something else to think about something that comes from playing in the end, a felt for twelve seasons and not making it to the Superbowl. So this is a little factory that I'm sure a lot of your. Your audience in and might be interested in a most players, even though they have the option of buying two tickets and Ngos. The game won't go back to fires. Longer, there's there's very you players that will go the old outages. You don't go to the sea level until you play in it, and so that's that's always been most guys. Think they'll go to some. Parties and induce a media engagements and talk to people meet people, but they are there every their Sunday morning to get home, so they can watch us who bore they leave Saturday, just because it's too hard to sit there.
I should in person by just yeah, just one of those things that just like superstition? Almost you does don't you know, goes a suitable until you, so you played on it coming up on frickin, I'm afraid you are egg heads Oh you! What to watch for, if you're really into football or want to seem as if you are, and if you're, the kind of person who hears the word football and thinks of soccer, but we ve got that in our for economics, radio archive as well at for economics, dot com on Itunes and elsewhere. I would suggest you start with the episode called. Why America doesn't love soccer, yet is also one called the longest long shot it's about Lesters City, football clubs, amazing Premier league title. Both episodes happen to include my pretty loving teenagers Solomon if you're really into he, and I do a whole separate footing. Podcast of forty four to check it out and for economics. Radio we'll be right back
How do you watch the Superbowl depends depends on how much you care about the teams depends who your watch? with depends on your level of interest and knowledge. In this egg heads guide to the Superbowl. We ve been asking NFL players past and present just in tuck, John Herschel and Eric Winston things that anyone can look for. We ve already covered the average football fan. and the total newbie. But what should someone? Who really knows the game? Watch for I look at formation, they doing a lotta too tight and sets. Are they completely open? Sets an well what are they are. They understand are quite a bit. I still believe and PETE. They ve gone away from this I still believe the more you understand her the more deception you have in your office. You are able to play. I can pass more. You I will do do differ.
Please I found a shot gun. You are limited to me and some of the things that you can do, and so I look at that. I'm looking at that. Hence, obviously, are they moving around they stagnant? Are they blessing? and then once the ball was snapped, I'm watching the fronts of an meaning, often Suleiman, plus the down Lyman Online backers, an hour they whose winning their who's, not winning and here's advice from John Herschel. I would tell them pick any position that they find interesting, whether its cornerback or whether it's a certain why receiver and really noticed more about the game if you just pick a position or even pick a player and just watch that player the entire game, just to see what that person's game is like the whole game, because very often you know football fans even hard core football fans. You know a lot
though, is watching the action and they kind of miss out on the idea of what's this players day actually like. So, if you look at a wide receiver, what does that wider Seaver doing on past plays where the main route combination is not to his side What is he doing when it's a run play? Is he running them off as he just jogging? Is he talking to the corner back? What you know, what is going on there often of Lyman, are in the unfortunate position of when, on the rare occasion that they make a mistake- and I called for holding motion or something that is often one of the only time that their name is mentioned on the broadcasts and the camera goes them and so on. It is an unfortunate situation. Well, offers alone will ever this was since we're talking. You know mathematically holding her there's a lot during your game, but only gets called and when it gets called it
always kind of a little questionable should have been called should have been called so there's this always this risk reward as an offensive limit for how long you hold for how hard you hold in terms of how often you get holding calls it during the season as opposed to how much this house you maintain your block. Do you find that an offensive, Wyman or defence of alignment is more prone to fatigue defence of lemon, certainly because they have to run to the football. So often limas job is blocking this man and I'm stopping him from either going to the quarterback or going to the running back and while he job is to get to the quarterback or the running back. So you know I'm blocking him and suppose around back runs all the way to the other side. Eventually, he's gonna get off, my blog is never going to get to the guy, but he still has to start running in that direction. If the quarterback throws the ball in a receiver catches, it
Well, I'm not much good danfield, I'm running down field for the defence of women has two sprint down field: to try to help to make the tackle, so they get tired much more quickly than we do. Also. I think there are some fatigue involved in now. Knowing what's happening, so they have to always be going always be in Odessa. Where I know the play, I know what's going to happen, they have to figure this out. That's such an interesting point, cuz, there's a lot of social science, research, psychology particular chosen uncertainty is exhausting and p. really poor decisions under uncertainty. So you're saying that for the defence of earth for anyone on the defence, I guess you you ve got that, all game long. Yes, you ve got this constant uncertainty. If you want to watch smart for ballplayer, special, indifferent, despicably fishermen, and that again is just in tuck and all pro defensive, Andy spent nine seasons with the New York Football Giants, including their two Superbowl win,
over the New England, patriots and most time beef. The aware there are really late, given their stance they ve exit out Is it they know not coming. So do I I learned from Stringham in overseeing the alpine regions. Guy he's talking about Michael stray hand and also human Europe, without always give the mustache last second, because want to see what offers are doing. I want to see Billy have trips into the boundaries that is a running back. Eight Europe deepen versus six or seven years deep, color back, shot. Not what is boys the hand of the offer is alarming and I'm going against. What does that tell me houses. Flip position is e blackened hours. He bottom tours means easy, Mister Waite back cause. He was a kick out because the past things like that is is what experts look at me they got a gun in motion, the seal, replaying man. There is this a situation
make it hard counties a third, a short. Should I watched a ball more and more intently? Didn't I would feel strode along, but the better you get it the quickly go so are you you normally have once they got a lot of courage by five seconds at the max, the pen and others have offered you planned, gets, and you have the car No decipher honest information like that it would go and play. I think the thing to do at the best auditing that I really well. When used, you want to go in your Stanley is because you wanna be upright to see better longer or you want to adjust your stance. Both ok but you're, gonna be ok, so the more information you have the more. You know what stance you want. As I grant you, I was told people out of work. For example, like we have definitive Kaliko check would mean difference, will change differences as office changed or so, this also as a dilemma had to listen to guys behind me.
Term elaborate, don't tell me that was my hands in the ground, because once my hands in a ground my mind is, went completely black and is more figured out or folks know how be discouraged. what I am, I am greatly could be. Eighty thousand people in the stands out on uranium, so that's one wonder reasons lasted a blogger because you know you'll be taken defences and gone from bliss. they cover tools or whatever may be in at the head of government adjust to it. So me stay, for me not put my hand in the dirt as long as possible gave me a better chance of being able to just how vow people would you say- and I would ask you to kind of put on your MBA hat Erica's, now you're thinking about risk reward and all that how valuable in let's say in one given football game is the element of surprise to see you know Like a game theory, question theoretically divided often can surprise you every time there
at least randomize and I'm ahead of the game. On the other hand, by in this thing on wanting to surprise you, I might do things that are not playing to my strength, I'm curious as a defensive player. What you thought of not necessarily trick plays, but you know how much the often tried to Oh you are a thing is: is a fire alarm between drawn a full players because they ever deeper the third most of my time isn't on actual feel run around trying to stop orphans. Most my times spent watching film trying to figure out. their tendencies, are so kind to her for Margaret my habit, a pretty good sense of what they like to do in certain situations which allow play really really fast, but on the other hand, they know that you know that, for the game theory happens, writes a data that you just and talk of watch twice. Of ours. Of what you know ex team is gonna. Do third in long and they know that you know that then they might want. You know outsmart, you remarked with they also or doing something,
their primary is as good it as well. So I think it is pretty much similar I'll come. You might give me once et repayable next time? Try you might loser, no, a fitting artisan in such a? U such often back, but also say far more from those who were, I believed that, regardless they know what I'm doing or not? If I execute what I'm doing better than him the number wines, I'm always we ve been amazing. I don't care if they know what I'm doing as long as I'm doing at a hundred percent of my capacity and I'm fine that, in terms of outfoxing, the other team, at least trying to optimize your play. Calling Steve Lever and colleague wrote a paper on this very topic.
Called professionals do not play many max and it analyzed about a hundred and twenty five thousand and a fair play choices. We found that team systematically ran the ball too much than that. Given the outcomes of place, it look like If teams were to pass a lot more than they did, things would actually get better and I can't say that it is actually cause a lie. I doubt that the NFL football teams red paper and dramatically change the way they did things, but I am happy to report In the years since we wrote that paper there was a dramatically he's in the share of place from scrimmage that became passes. Verses runs when that and hadn't been there at all prior to our writing. So so maybe I should take credit for it, even though its almost certainly impossible that I have made an itself upon more efficient, Steve Levitt as one more piece of advice for any one watching the Superbowl, regardless of interest level. The boy
this report is that you can virtually gamble on any aspect of it. So not just the final score who will win, but Who will win the opening coin toss and Number one year you could actually bet on whether Jazzy would all oh appear, along with beyond, say, and in the half time show, and so, if you have some fun, you can go to a sports book. You can look at in other than the literally hundreds of different betting up. better there and without even the trouble of going in and make an account to sports. But I would suggest you find a friend and you were you Davy up the betting. You bet on you know fifty or seventy five things in you any keep track of the who and what an it can keep you busy for the entire game and if it's a sort of thing where you don't get any pleasure out of taking money from your friends that out exists
You find one, your enemies and you actually divvy up all the bet with when you were enemies, so that you, if you actually happened to win a lot, he can take great joy in that in that outcome, coming up or next regularly scheduled for economics, radio episode. We continue our secret life of a ceo, serious. We ve got interviews with the ceo of companies like Facebook, Pepsico and Microsoft, and we look at all the trouble. A ceo, to deal with from consumer rebellions, lower, maybe fifteen or twenty thousand people who were very upset to changes in the business climate. We tried to hard our old model alive and huge changes in technology, and then I choose, gambling on the internet came along its next time and for economics, radio,
pregnant with radio is produced by W and my c studios and governor productions. This episode is produced by Shelly Louis. Our staff also includes Allison Hockenberry Merit Jacob Gregory Zawoiski. Stephanie. Time, Miller of your Carruthers Harry Huggins in Rangoon, terrorist. You can subscribe to for economics, radio and apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast. You should also check out our archive at freak. Start com. You can stream or download every episode we have ever made. You can also be the transcript we'll find Thanks to the underlying research. We can also be found on Twitter, Facebook or via email at radio at for economics. Dotcom thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2021-01-22.