Tuesday, September 15, 2009

'you better cheat, cheat. no reason to play fair'

Re-reading Dan Ariely's 'Predictably Irrational' again. For the uninitiated, Dan is a professor of behavioural economics and the book features his stories of a number of 'experiments' undertaken in order to give a better understanding of the 'hidden' reasons humans behave and make decisions in the way they do.

In one small experiment described in the book, Dan and his colleagues placed 6-packs of Coca Cola in the communal fridges around a university campus. Within 72 hours all of the Coke's had been taken.
They followed this up by placing a plate with six dollar bills in the same fridges (the approximate monetary 'value' of the Cokes.
72 hours later the dosh was still there.

In simple terms Dan's experiment showed that humans have more propensity to 'cheat' or 'steal' items that are once removed from cash rather than actual cash.

That story got me thinking about this mornings story that Arsenal footballer Eduardo has had the 2 match ban imposed by UEFA - for his blatant 'dive' during the Champions League game against Celtic - repealed. Shocker.

In the end Arsenal comfortably won the tie without reliance on the penalty kick Eduardo gained by cheating, however, had the match been delicately poised at 0-0 it could have had wider implications.

I'm sure Eduardo would not have lifted a million quid out of the Parkhead petty cash box had he chanced upon it while limping down the corridor but the stakes are so high in modern football that there is a serious financial implication connected to winning and losing. Eduardo's £100k a week, or whatever, requires Arsenal to be competing in the Champions League, just as Celtic's P&L is hammered by non-qualification.

I'm an Aberdeen supporter, so why should I care about whether Celtic were cheated (and UEFA endorsed cheated) out of a million quid?

Interdependance. Nothing exists in a vacuum.
Celtic's failure to qualify will impact Scottish teams UEFA rankings (and hence the number of European places allocated to the SPL) so a 4th place finish that has previously guaranteed Euro participation may not be enough.

So Eduardo's cheating has potentially taken money out of the Scottish game as a whole (which it can ill-afford).

Dan points out in his book that perhaps the recent financial crash can in some way be connected to the financial fiddlings of yer Enrons being so removed from actual cash transactions that it doesn't feel like real money in real peoples lives or deaths. Hence the greater likelyhood of cheating.

Football is , of course, not a matter of life or death. It's much more important than that.

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