Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won

In Scorecasting, sports economist Tobias J. Moskowitz teams up with veteran sports journalist L. Jon Wertheim to challenge many of the long-held truths about the games we love.

Checkout this video:


We all know that sports are unpredictable. That’s what makes them so exciting. But what if I told you that there are hidden forces influencing the outcome of games that we don’t even know about? In his book Scorecasting, Toby Moskowitz set out to uncover these hidden influences and show how they can impact the outcome of a game.

What is scorecasting?

Scorecasting is the art and science of predicting sports outcomes. It is based on the theory that there are certain factors – some that are hidden, or at least not widely known – that influence the outcome of games.

Some of these factors may be psychological, such as a team’s belief in its own ability to win. Others may be physical, such as the effect of altitude on scoring in football. And still others may be strategic, such as the choice of whether to go for it on fourth down.

By taking into account all of these hidden influences, scorecasting can provide a more accurate way of predicting the outcome of games than traditional methods, such as statistical analysis.

The role of psychology in scorecasting

It is well established that psychology plays a significant role in athletic performance. Mental factors such as motivation, focus, and confidence can have a major impact on an athlete’s physical ability. In scorecasting, we explore the role of psychology in predicting the outcomes of games.

We find that psychological factors can indeed influence the outcome of games, and that certain types of players are more likely to be affected by these factors than others. For example, we find that players who are more prone to anxiety are more likely to perform worse under pressure. We also find that players who are more self-confident are more likely to play better in clutch situations.

Thus, psychological factors can play an important role in determining the outcome of games. By understanding these factors, we can gain a better understanding of why some teams win and some teams lose.

The Home Field Advantage

In Scorecasting, Toby Rosenberg and Jon Wertheim make a compelling case that the home field advantage may be the most important force in sports. The book starts by looking at the history of the home field advantage and how it has evolved over time. The authors then explore the factors that contribute to the home field advantage and how it can impact the outcome of a game.

The history of the home field advantage

The home field advantage is a well-documented phenomenon in sports. It has been shown to exist in a wide variety of sports, from baseball and football to soccer and basketball. Studies have found that the home team wins approximately 54% of the time in baseball, 57% of the time in football, and 60% of the time in basketball.

The home field advantage is thought to be caused by a variety of factors, including the support of the home crowd, familiarity with the home stadium, and more favorable officiating. However, recent research has suggested that another important factor may be referee bias.

In a study published in the Journal of Sports Economics, researchers found that NFL referees are more likely to call penalties on the away team than on the home team. This bias is especially pronounced in close games; when the game is within one score in the fourth quarter, referees are twice as likely to call a penalty on the away team as they are on the home team.

This study provides strong evidence that referee bias is a significant factor in the home field advantage. However, it should be noted that other factors such as crowd support and familiarity with the stadium are also likely to play a role.

The psychological factors behind the home field advantage

In almost every sport, the home team wins more often than the visitors. This Home Field Advantage (HFA) is one of the most consistent and perplexing phenomenon in sports. For decades, psychologists, sociologists and economists have tried to explain why this occurs with little success. In Scorecasting, L. Jon Wertheim and Tobias Moskowitz reveal the hidden forces that shape how sports are played and games are won – forces that defy explanation and common sense yet produce consistently dramatic results. Their groundbreaking research uncovers the concealed biases that advantage the home team – biases that even unconscious of players, coaches and officials exploit to gain an edge.

The Hot Hand Fallacy

The hot hand fallacy is the belief that a person who has had success with a random event is more likely to have success with future random events. This belief is held by many people in many different domains, including the world of sports. The hot hand fallacy has been debunked by many studies, but people still believe in it.

The history of the hot hand fallacy

The hot hand fallacy is the belief that a person who has had success with a certain task will continue to have success with that task. This fallacy is commonly seen in sports, where fans and players alike believe that a player who has made several successful shots in a row is more likely to make their next shot.

The hot hand fallacy has been around for centuries, with the earliest known mention dating back to 16th century Italy. In 1710, French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace wrote about the fallacy in his work Essai philosophique sur les probabilèmes concernant l’intelligence des animaux. Laplace’s work was later translated into English and published in 1814 under the title A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities.

The hot hand fallacy gained popularity in the United States in the mid-19th century, when baseball became a popular pastime. Fans and players alike believed that a player who had hit several home runs in a row was more likely to hit another home run. This belief was so prevalent that some players would deliberately try to get on a “hot streak” by taking extra bases or swinging at bad pitches.

Despite the popularity of the hot hand fallacy, there is no scientific evidence to support it. In 1985, two researchers from Cornell University published a paper titled “The Hot Hand in Basketball: On the Misperception of Random Sequences” in which they analyzed data from over 7500 shots taken by NBA players. They found no evidence to support the existence of the hot hand effect.

Since then, numerous other studies have been conducted on the hot hand fallacy, all with similar results: there is no evidence to support its existence. The hot hand fallacy is nothing more than an illusion; our brains are wired to see patterns where none exist.

The psychological factors behind the hot hand fallacy

The hot hand fallacy is the belief that a person who has had success with a particular activity will continue to have success with that activity. The hot hand fallacy is also sometimes referred to as the Gambler’s Fallacy or the Monte Carlo Fallacy.

The hot hand fallacy is based on the concept of positive reinforcement, which is when a behavior is reinforced by a positive consequence. For example, if you eat a piece of cake and enjoy it, you are more likely to eat cake again in the future. Similarly, if you make a shot in basketball and your team wins the game, you are more likely to believe that you have the “hot hand” and will make your next shot.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it ignores the role of chance in any given situation. Just because you made your last shot does not mean that you are more likely to make your next shot. In fact, each shot has the same probability of being made, regardless of whether or not you made your last shot.

Despite the lack of evidence for the hot hand fallacy, research has shown that people tend to believe in it. In one study, participants were shown sequences of coin flips and were asked to predict whether the next flip would be heads or tails. The participants were significantly more likely to predict correctly if they had just seen a streak of heads or tails (i.e., if they believed in the hot hand fallacy).

The hot hand fallacy can have real-world consequences, such as when people gamble based on their belief in the hot hand fallacy. For example, someone might keep betting on red at a roulette table because they believe that red is “due” to come up after several spins without any hits. However, each spin of the roulette wheel is an independent event and has nothing to do with previous spins. As such, believing in the hot hand fallacy can lead people to make decisions that are not in their best interest.

The Impact of Officiating

The history of bad calls in sports

In sports, bad calls are often a source of frustration for fans, players, and coaches. In some cases, bad calls can even decide the outcome of a game. Whether it’s a blown call in football, a missed call in basketball, or something else entirely, bad calls are a part of sports.

Bad calls have been a part of sports for as long as there have been sports. One of the earliest recorded cases of a bad call in sport took place in 1846 during a cricket match between England and Canada. At the time, cricket was one of the most popular sports in the world. The English team was batting when one of their players hit the ball out of bounds. The umpire (the person who officiates the game), however, called the ball “not out” and England went on to win the match. This led to angry protests from the Canadian team and prompted the English Cricket Association to change its rules to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

While bad calls are certainly frustrating, they’re also an unavoidable part of sports. In most cases, officials are doing their best to make the correct call. However, there will always be times when they make a mistake. That’s just part of the game.

The psychological factors behind bad calls

Have you ever wondered why officials make bad calls? It turns out that there are psychological factors at play. Studies have shown that officials are more likely to make bad calls when they are feeling threatened or when they need to assert their authority.

For example, one study found that basketball officials were more likely to call fouls on the away team when the home team was winning. The officials felt that they needed to even the playing field and give the home team a chance to win.

Another study found that football officials were more likely to call penalties on the team that was ahead. Again, the officials felt that they needed to level the playing field and give the other team a chance to catch up.

These studies show that officials are influenced by psychological factors when making calls. They are more likely to make bad calls when they feel threatened or when they need to assert their authority. So, next time you see an official making a bad call, just remember that there might be a reason behind it!


So, what does all this data mean? To some, it reinforces the age-old “the refs were against us” belief. And, in some close games, that may very well be the case. But, according to Moskowitz and Wertheim, the data reveals a much more subtle and pernicious bias: we tend to see what we want to see in officiating. And, often times, what we want to see corroborates our pre-existing beliefs about the game.

This pattern held true even when the data was controlled for factors like home field advantage and whether or not a team was winning or losing. In other words, fans of losing teams were just as likely to believe the refs were against them as fans of winning teams. The human brain is an incrediblePattern recognition machine and we areister than adept a finding meaning in randomness.

The implications of this finding are far-reaching. In a world where information is more readily available than ever before, we have to be careful not to fall into the trap of confirmation bias. Just because we can find data to support our beliefs does not make those beliefs true. We must be constantly vigilant in our search for objectivity and open-mindedness if we want to see the world as it truly is.

Similar Posts