In Yo Face, Talcott: The Social Science Theory of Everything Is Nigh

There is an erroneous tendency to rank title races basically exclusively on the drama contained in their denouements – even devastatingly urbane, thrilling metrosexual types make such a mistake – when, really, the very best of the genre involve a remorseless pursuit of the prize over a number of months of sustained excellence.

The best examples in England are 1998-99 and 2001-02, but they can't hold a candle to what we have seen in Spain these last few months. Nor, obviously, can this season's Premier League race. If the La Liga campaign has been like watching two devastatingly urbane, thrilling metrosexual gentlemen in the very sharpest suits engage in an all-night verbal joust for the hand of the fairest maiden, the 2009-10 Premier League season has been more like watching a triumvirate of leering, sweating pissartists counting their change in front of an increasingly bored hooker.

Still, paragraphs are paragraphs and they get a bit boring sometimes. Here, instead, are some statistics to show how astonishingly good a race this has been:

• Real Madrid have won 17 of their last 18 games and Barcelona 17 of their last 20
• Real Madrid, who have 92 points with two games to play, could finish with 98 points and not win the league; in 1999-2000, Deportivo la Coruna won the league with 69 points
• Real Madrid could finish the season with 19 wins in 20 games and not win the bloody league!
• If Barcelona and Real win their last two games they will finish with 99 and 98 points. 99+98 = 197. Even Scotland, supposedly the home of the two-horse race, can't beat that: the record is 194 in 2002-03
• Since La Liga went to 38 games a season and three points a win, there has only been one previous instance of two sides finishing with 80 points in the season, never mind 90, never mind 98
• Barcelona have already beaten the record for points in a La Liga season: Real's 92 in 1996-97. And that was in a 42-game season. Real have already beaten the record for wins in a La Liga season: Barcelona's 28, also in 1996-97.
That's Rob Smyth's theory of football title races, nay, sports contests, nay, all contests, nay, all narratives. Aw, fuck, isn't this somehow relevant for all of utility theory, plus the psychology of memory? At the very least?

No comments: