Under 9 by numbers

For the 2018 State Championships a new format for the Under 9 competition was trialled based on a group stage followed by a finals stage.  Group allocation was done through a draw with seeding pools. If this sounds complicated think FIFA finals format. TBAWA asked for and received some varied feedback on the trial. Most of the feedback so far was either

  • we don’t like it because this format encourages one-sided games as lower seeded teams come up against higher seeded teams in the group stage
  • we like it because this format is exciting and produces lots of close-fought games

So I decided to look at the numbers as I have all the results from all games dating back to something like 2003. I limited the analysis to the last 10 years and only the Under 9 competition. Firstly I calculated the average winning margin for all Under 9 games played from 2008 to 2017 (10 years). And the answer is, that historically Under 9 games were decided by an average of 12 runs. In comparison for Under 10 the average is 11 runs and for Under 11 and Under 12 it is 10.

So historically Under 9 winning average is 12 runs and this year the Under 9 winning average was 11 runs. A small but, I my opinion, not a significant difference. If the average winning margin is 12 it seems reasonable to use a 50% band to define what is a ‘close game’ and what is a ‘one-sided game’. So I used a winning margin of 6 or less to declare a game being ‘close’ and 18 or more to declare a game as ‘one-sided’. Applying this to the last 10 years of Under 9 State Championship competitions gave the following table:

Competition Average Winning Margin Max Winning Margin, i.e. the worst one-sided game that year % of Close Games % of One-Sided Games Number of teams not winning a game
2008 HBF Action for Healthy Kids State Championships 9 31 46% 18% 3
HBF State Championships 2009 8 24 50% 12% 4
State Championships 2010 11 31 36% 24% 2
Fielders Choice State Championships 2011 13 31 36% 36% 2
Fielders Choice State Championships 2012 9 22 44% 16% 3
Fielders Choice State Championships 2013 10 29 41% 17% 1
Fielders Choice State Championships 2014 13 32 33% 33% 2
Fielders Choice State Championships 2015 14 32 31% 42% 2
IGA State Championships 2016 12 38 30% 23% 3
IGA State Championships 2017 10 23 35% 21% 3
State Championships 2018 11 26 34% 18% 1

Quick analysis: The old format seems to produce more ‘close’ games than the new format did this year. However, the new format compares favourably by being at the low end of the ‘one-side’ games spectrum. Obviously when it comes to ‘Number of teams not winning a single game’ the new format comes out looking good as it inherently will only produce a maximum of one team that can loose all its games.

In summary both claims made in submissions to TBAWA

  • The new format produces more one-sided games => not supported by the numbers
  • The new format produces more close games => not supported by the numbers

Please note that this is not an attempt to endorse one format over the other. It just tries to present some factual information in the hope this will facilitate a less emotive and more reasoned debate on the pros and cons of the two formats.

If you like to make a submission TBAWA strongly encourages all interested parties to go through their respective member club. It is your club that has two votes, like any club, at the TBAWA Council meetings, where this will be debated and decided later this year.

Manuel Mall

TBAWA Treasurer