Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Look Forward, Reason Backward

Decision making and execution comprise the core of sport and many other games. The Art of Strategy admonishes us to "look forward, reason backward." 

By anticipating certain endgames, we prepare both the strategy and the execution needed. This applies to us individually and to 'systems' like college basketball. 

I saw a 'different' variation on a baseline out of bounds play recently. 

Just another variation of pressuring choice of x3. If she stays in, 2 may have an attractive shot. If she leaves to help, the situation exposes 3 and 5 versus x5. I teach the girls that (on a BOB) when the big girls 'leave' the basket, they are usually coming back. Stay home. 

Cheating. Let's imagine that certain "educational institutions" recruit using money, perquisites, or other 'favors'. The Art of Strategy discusses strategies to achieve cooperation (limit cheating)

Detection of cheating. "Before cheating can be punished it must be detected. If detection is fast and accurate, the punishment can be immediate and accurate." Insert laugh track for the NCAA. 

Nature of punishment. Obviously, punishments vary, from probation to restricting scholarships, to postseason bans, or the proverbial 'death penalty', shutting programs down for a time. 

Clarity. "The boundaries of acceptable behavior and the consequences of cheating should be clear to a prospective cheater." If the rules are complex, they may inadvertently break them. 

Certainty. "Players should have confidence that detection will be punished and cooperation rewarded." As Jerry Tarkanian said, "the NCAA was so mad at Kentucky that they gave Cleveland State two extra years of probation." 

Size. "If the punishment is strong enough to deter cheating, it need never actually be inflicted. Therefore it may as well be set at a sufficiently high level to ensure deterrence." If paying recruits exacted the death penalty for the first offense, it's reasonable to presume few would cross that line because high paid coaches would risk forfeiting present and future compensation.  

Repetition. Repetitive cheating would exact higher sanctions. It could also depend on the 'value of the product' when applied to business. 

The authors make clear that in many game theory sets, "what you do and how you get there has no impact at all on what the other side thinks and acts." Similarly, by acting together (to affirm acceptable practices), conspiracy and collusion act in the interest of the businesses but against the interests of the consumers. In practice, the Sherman Antitrust Act (approved by the Supreme Court) prevents these anti-consumer practices. 

Regarding recruiting violations, temptation never disappears and the system has imperfect information and transparency. The 'players' know this and looking forward and reasoning backward hasn't stopped cheating. 

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