20 March 2009

The Times sports desk: Still not quite getting the hang of this "Google" thing


The London Times' football blog, The Game, is your one-stop shop for a sensible, reasoned perspective on all things "footie". So it's no surprise to see them open up the debate on whether Rome should host the Champions League final.

I say "debate"...It does open with a question: "Should the Champions League final be moved from Rome?" Presumably, this is an error, and ought to read, "The Champions League final should be moved from Rome", because it is, in fact, an entreaty to join their campaign to have the tie removed from "Stab City", as they tactfully put it.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of this opinion (I mean, Tommy Smith agrees — LISTEN TO THE LEGEND), I can't help but feel that the good folk manning the sports department at the dear old Thunderer should, in making their case, not, y'know...talk shit.

I give you:

Uefa is hoping that there will be no trouble on May 27 and is confident that Italian police will deal with any problems. Any English supporter who has been to the Olympic Stadium knows that holding the final there is a risk not worth taking. Type “Roma” and “stabbing” into Google and you get 280,000 results.

Now, Google is a wonderful resource. But:
  1. Are we sure we want the venue for football's biggest games to be determined by a single Google search?
  2. Given the Times' recent, ahem, embarrassing inability to fully grasp the fundamentals of internet-based research, shouldn't they, like, not bring Google into the argument? Just to be on the safe side, I mean?

Maybe I'm being harsh, so let's test it out. Scientifically. Maybe Google can be used in our quest to ensure that European club football's biggest game takes place on an appropriate stage. Perhaps The Game's problem was that they didn't cast the net out wide enough and Google other football teams' names and the word "stabbing" to give credence to their view.

For form's sake, let's begin with Roma:


Approximately 276,000. That's something, alright. (Though not quite the 280,000 claimed by the Times. Perhaps 4,000 of them "mysteriously disappeared" since the claim was first made. Not that the Times would know anything about that sort of thing, would they? Eh? Eh, Times? Eh? Zing!)

So, the cut-off point for the right to host the Champions League final is somewhere below 280,000 hits for "[football team based in city (x)] stabbing". (In the interests of concision and clarity, such hits shall henceforth be called "Stabbini".)

What about future venues? The Bernabéu hosts next year's game, so:

An impressively low Stabbini count for the Madrileños. In 2012, the circus heads for the Allianz Arena:


All tickety-boo. It seems that the Stabbini Threshold (ST) is somewhere between 67,200 and 280,000. Let's check out London, host of the 2011 final, by determining Chelsea's Stabbini count:

275,000! We've really narrowed it down now! The ST is obviously between 275,000 and 280,000.

But: as mentioned, Roma's Stabbini count has fallen in the last twenty-four hours. What if the ST is somewhere between 276,000 and 280,000? Is Rome now eligible?

There is a simple way around this dread conclusion. Rome has more than one football team. What if we added Lazio's Stabbini score?

Yes! Problem solved!

Hold on: the Google's trying to speak!:


I'm confused. Could it be...? Could there be a flaw in the methodology?

Maybe we're looking at this the wrong way. Maybe we're asking the little gods that live inside our computer the wrong question. Let's see what some other searches return:



This...this can't be happening! It's the Google! The Google's wrong! It's crazy, I tell ya, crazy! Wait...what's this?


Now, that's just a really big number used without due context. Disregard.

7 comments:

Elliott 20/3/09 11:37 PM  

Its great that people are concerned about safety. Hence, the final should be moved back to Istanbul, which is so much safer than Rome.

A google search of "london times" and "stabbing" produced 7010 results. Conversely, a google search of "sport is a tv show" and "stabbing" produced only 5 results.

Fredorrarci 20/3/09 11:45 PM  

Dammit, I'm applying to step into the breach for 2010 in case South Africa aren't ready.

Fredorrarci 21/3/09 1:54 AM  

Ah, you're too kind, Blogistuta.

Blogistuta 21/3/09 6:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogistuta 21/3/09 6:07 PM  

No, really. Bizarrely enough, many, many sources covering this campaign fail to question the scientific methods The Times used (is there anything google *can't* do?). I don't know why, it really sticks out as something that needs to be made fun of, and if it is done as patiently as you did, all the better.

Fredorrarci 21/3/09 11:51 PM  

It's the type of thing a school debating team wouldn't resort to. Things like that and the tabloidy "Stab City" epithet only serve to undermine the argument -- however worthy it may be -- to anyone whose knee doesn't jerk by the end of paragraph one.

(At least the good people of Limerick must be happy that somewhere else is being called "Stab City".)

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