538 has a good piece on the implicit bias referees have when they get yelled at in NFL games:
a sideline bias in the NFL is real, and it’s spectacular. To prove it, we looked at the rates at which refs call the NFL’s most severe penalties, including defensive pass interference, aggressive infractions like personal fouls and unnecessary roughness, and offensive holding calls, based on where the offensive team ran its play.1…
For three common penalties, the direction of the play — that is, whether it’s run toward the offensive or defensive team’s sideline — makes a significant difference. In other words, refs make more defensive pass interference calls on the offensive team’s sideline but more offensive holding calls on the defensive team’s sideline. What’s more, these differences aren’t uniform across the field — the effect only shows up on plays run, roughly, between the 32-yard lines, the same space where coaches and players are allowed to stand during play.
Speaking as a referee, this makes intuitive sense. And it is a logical extension of the massive amount of research that shows crowd noise is a major factor in gaining home field advantage from refs. We’re human.
I would like to see a follow-up study for soccer and assistant referees. This would be a fairly clean study as the operational procedures produces a great data set for assistant referees. 95% of the time, both sets of benches are on the same side of the field. For the non-soccer folks, there are two assistant referees. AR-1 stands on the bench side with the right shoulder to the goal. A team bench is usually a few yards behind him and coaches have a technical area where they are allowed to wander freely. AR-2 is on the far side with no one behind them. Teams switch the direction of attack at half time.
So AR-1 has Team A in his ear for forty five minutes where A is attacking. And AR-1 also gets Team A in his ear for forty five minutes while they are defending. Team B does not have easy and constant access to AR-1 as they are always at least ten yards away from the halfline and at the professional level (where the data would be) there is a fourth official to act as a buffer.
My prediction is that Team A would over the course of the season have fewer offside violations called during its attack than Team B. I think the mechanism that will occur is that most assistant referees know that they are evaluated when the flag goes up on close calls. If they are not 100% certain that an offside violation has occurred, they are told to keep the flag down and not call the violation. If they miss an egregious offside, they will be graded down. But if they are not calling the occasional offside where the attacking player is off by half a shoe, their evaluation will not be impacted. None of this is conscious bias, it is human nature where a referee can firmly believe that they are only 95% sure instead of 100% and thus they keep their flag down.
I would love to see this data as I think the logic would hold true with a very clean data set.
Hello, Did yuo find a house?
That is really interesting. It’s nice to see some hard science that backs up what appears to happen a lot, but is hard to prove. The Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday night was an excellent example of this phenomenon.
Do you/will you have a comment on this?
I was wondering whether the ultimate goal of such a plan has ever been gamed out – I assume it is to increase corporate profits/CEO pay even further by shifting the cost of employment unto the employee just like, for example, 401 (k) plans have done.
I think “yelling at the referees” has pretty much been the go-to coaching strategy on the right for 30 years or so (that’s fox news’ basic Raison d’etre.) And yeah, I’d say it works.
Anonymous at Work
It is also a function of coaches calling attention to it. Pit battles allow holding, hands to face, and chopping due to obstructed views. Coaches can call it out better. Not all bias from being yelled at.
But yes, humans.
@DBaker: In another 20 years the plutocracy will be explaining why it’s perfectly reasonable for us to pay them to be allowed to work for them. They’ve already gotten away with internships and “certifications” of one kind or another.
A favorite for many, many a moon.
The Three Types of Umpires:
1) “There are balls and there are strikes and I calls ’em as I sees ’em.”
2) “There are balls and there are strikes and I calls ’em as they are.”
3) “There are balls and there are strikes but they ain’t neither ’til I says so.”
The NFL a multi-billion dollar business that relies on part time workers for the most critical job in the game. Absolute insanity.
Columbus Crew changed sides for the benches last season so that coaches could better yell at the AR. Last year was pretty dismal for the Crew performance wise, so I’m not sure if it helped. However, there may be a somewhat limited data set there to look at- and more if other clubs have done the same thing recently.
I always thought the main advantage of yelling at the refs was to get the makeup call a few plays later. But this makes sense too.
But I also dropped in to get Richard’s take on the TPM story. I can’t believe I’m reading a Mayhew thread and saying, “Enough about sports. Let’s talk about insurance some more!!”
Seems like a political takeaway from this is that if you make a lot of noise, particularly at decision-makers like your representatives, you get more of what you want.
A visit to Cameron will show vividly how this works.
@Yarrow: unless your rep is repubs and you’re not…then they run away and fail to have any more “outreach” with constituents.
@SW: The complaint about the NFL having “part-time” referees is kind of bogus. The reason the NFL has part-time referees is because the full regular-season schedule only has 17 games, each a week apart. I’ve never heard an explanation of what the referees would be doing for 30+ extra hours during the week between games (or for 40 hours during the other 35 weeks of the year) that would actually improve their officiating during the games.
But you don’t need a clean data set to discover what you are searching for. The effect is noisy, wildly dependent on loud / quiet coaches, accommodating / stubborn refs, and any number of other factors (trying to spare you the stat-speak).
The signal will come through the noise, even with messy data, as long as there’s enough messy data.
But again, this is fascinating.
They should adjust for league storylines and Q-rated superstars, if you’re talking the NFL, as well. Teams with ’em get calls. Teams without ’em get the shaft.
Completely OT, but … have you seen this article http://www.vox.com/first-person/2017/1/18/14300952/donald-trump-vote-regret
Reading the section about the ACA, I get the distinct feeling I’m been lied-to. But I’m not in this business, so can’t quite tell. Do you have any opinions about this?
@Chet Murthy: very plausible if they are in their 60s and making 401%+ FPL and on the individual market they are fucked