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## Guest post

March 15th, 2006

Reader Jane Harris addresses the vexed question “How many umpires?”, first in econospeak and then in verse. The occasion is an AFL proposal to allow goal and boundary umps to award free kicks.

An economist tackling the problem of optimal number of umpires would use the law of diminishing marginal returns. The marginal benefits of extra umpires would tend to fall as extra ones are added. The optimum number of umpires is achieved when the marginal benefits equal the marginal costs,and the challenge is finding this number without overshooting. Has the AFL got good advisers do you think?

Bob Dylan (blowin in the wind) may provide an answer.

How many umps must be out on the ground
Before they pick up all the frees

Yes’n when will they start falling over each other’s feet
and what if they tend to disagree

Yes’n what will happen if it all ends up
In an all-in umpire melee

I think I will go, and ask Dimetriou
I’m sure that Andrew will know

Categories: Sport Tags:
1. March 16th, 2006 at 06:19 | #1

How many umps must be out on the ground
So as to make the right decision?

The answer, my friend: one’s quite enough
Whatever they do, there’s derision …

2. March 16th, 2006 at 09:04 | #2

How many points should a game give away,
if you miss where you aim?

The answer my friend, if playing AFL today,
is one point to help cover your shame.

3. March 16th, 2006 at 10:52 | #3

A friend of mine, a Geelong supporter, emailed to say he has been thinking about the optimal number of grandfinals to lose before winning one (to maximise that winning feeling):

“Any dill whose ever contemplated their navel long enough can tell you that
the chances of losing 9 grannies in a row are 1 in 512. However, the chance
of losing 10 on the trot is IMMPPPOSSSIIIIBBBLLLEEEEE!!!”

Note that he is including pre-season grand finals. I suspect he may be trying to hype up the Cat’s chances for this year. However, this time he has not only conveninetly disregarded laws of economics, but ones of maths too!

So another rhyme is called for (still usin Blowin in the Wind):

Is there an op-ti-mal num-ber of times
to lose in the grand final so

the pleasure of finally winning one is
as high as it possibly can go

and are they all independent events
or is that just mum-bo jum-bo

I think I will go and ask a Geelong bro’
cos the Cats have lost nine in a row

4. March 16th, 2006 at 11:18 | #4

How many men in white
does it take to run the game as it could be

Before they become a blight
lets decide how many there should be

5. March 17th, 2006 at 09:33 | #5

Of grown men chasing balls,
Who’s calling the toss?

Why anybody would care,
I’m completely at a loss!

6. April 1st, 2006 at 06:57 | #6

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