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Ich Bin Ein Argentiner: A Big Data Approach to World Cup Rooting

by Michael Austin, published

So it's World Cup finals time again, and I will be at a watch party with friends. As a non-sports fan, these events are always hard for me, mainly because I just don't know things. It was at a Super Bowl watch party a few years ago, for example, that I first learned that the Colts weren't in Baltimore anymore. I was shocked. Apparently, the Rams aren't in Los Angeles either. Who knew?

The World Cup is a little bit easier, though. In the first place, I played soccer as a kid, so I kind of know how the rules work. I even defined "offsides" once for my wife, to the amazement of the entire room. But World Cup Soccer is a truly international affair. It is war, and therefore politics, by another means. So you are rooting for a country more than a sports team. And I do know from countries.

But that doesn't make tomorrow's game any easier. I have no ties to either Germany or Argentina. But I have to root for somebody, otherwise its no fun. In sports, like politics, there must always be a good side and a bad side. Usually, in both cases, I just flip a coin.

But this time, I am going to tap into my inner Nate Silver and take a "big data" approach to rooting in the big game. To do this, I took ten things that are important to me--things like history, books, and music--and chose the best that both Germany and Argentina had to offer. I assumed equal importance for each category, and scored each entry on a 1-10 scale. Then I simply totaled up the results. It turns out, I really do have a favorite.


Screen shot 2014-07-12 at 3.31.35 PM

So now I know. Ich bin ein Argentiner. Tomorrow, I will show up wearing baby blue and singing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" at the top of my lungs. The truth is, I never left you. Go guys go. I kept my promise, don't keep your distance.

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