source:PROJECT CYBERBALL. How Marcelo Bielsa is freeing Science… | by Jamie Hamilton | Oct, 2020 | Medium
How Marcelo Bielsa is freeing Science from the clutches of Capital
‘Seize the benefits that science gives the people in their quest’
Lyric from a Chilean protest song
The problem with football is that it is decided by goals; that is to say, decided by a numerical superiority, a quantitative difference. And if it is discernible units of quantity we are valuing highest — units of matter, energy, information, enemy kills, Capital or indeed goals — then game theoretic cybernetics are your ‘go to’ school of applied computation. Select the metrics, collect the data, crunch the numbers, feed them back into the system and just watch those marginal gains role in.
As we shall come to see, football data analysis is a form of cybernetics; the science of communication and control in man and machine — in this particular case, man and the simulated football system. The aim of applied football cybernetics is to increase the probability of, depending on the parameters of competition, maximising points (league) and arriving in the next round (knockout). To do so, emphasis is placed on both the scoring of goals and the not-conceding of goals.
Given the nature of football’s ultimate reliance on a quantitative scoring mechanism there appears to be no exit from this framework of servitude to the twin pillars of ‘scoring’ and ‘not-conceding’ regardless of one’s stylistic preferences or idealistic musings. The new football romantic then awakens to find themselves trapped inside a horrifying hall of mirrors, beset on all sides by the hideously warped reflections of their own naivety and misplaced hope.
At this point resistance to the sovereignty of quantity seems almost entirely futile. The only option appears to be to embrace a kind of nihilistic acceptance of the governing dynamics of football’s rivalrous, zero-sum game theory.
Propelled forth by the absurd accelerationism of late-capitalist-liberal-modernity, football is now, more than ever, a slave to the result and its financial corollary, to the value which has been obtained; the score is the only stat that matters points on the board another year in the top flight six-pointers a top-four finish managers under pressure they need to win a trophy winning when you’re playing badly happy with the point grinding out results a pragmatic approach parking the bus shutting up shop playing the percentages cancelling each other out getting the job done workmanlike performances game in game out game in game out game in game out…
They say the night is darkest just before the dawn but to what glimmer of light does Eduardo Galeano’s ‘beggar for good football’ look to when all seems lost?
What seems necessary to develop here is the idea of a seemingly zero-sum game being conceptualised in a non-zero-sum way; a rebooting of the collective consciousness so the question then becomes — to what power do we secede if not the numerical value of the score? To what end do we apply the wizardry of analytical cybernetics if a number is no longer valid? What, if anything, comes after quantity?