Modeling and Control in Social Dynamics

Sports Leagues and Competitive Societies

Eli Ben-Naim

Los Alamos National Laboratory


Sports competitions are investigated using a mathematical model in which a weak team can upset a strong team with a fixed probability. Theoretical analysis of this random process, using similarity solutions and extreme statistics methods, captures many observed characteristics of real sports competitions in leagues, tournaments, and championships. This theory helps us better understand sports competitions through quantitative measures for parity and predictability. Also, the theory can be used to develop efficient algorithms for scheduling games.