Do you need neutrality in sports predictions?
In the spring of 2023, the 20th book of the American journalist Roy Peter Clark, who was nicknamed “America’s teacher of writing” in his homeland, will be published. If you’ve never heard the name, don’t worry – this is specialized literature. But sometimes it “catches” very strongly, I want to shift the profile letters to the general canons of life. In particular, sports betting.
The new book is called Tell It Like It is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing, which loosely means “Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Open and Honest Writing” (I hope it will be translated into Russian better). On the Poynter portal. you can get acquainted with one of the basic chapters of creation. Roy Peter Clark talks about the gradation of the word “neutrality” in journalism and concludes that in the modern world:
Neutrality in many things does not mean neutrality in everything
Sports forecasts are specific journalism, limited by limits (each forecaster has his own). Roy Peter Clark’s metric for neutrality is great for forecasting as well.
Forecast Neutrality Grading: From Shorthand to Propaganda
According to Roy Peter Clark, the concept of “neutrality” in journalism has six levels:
From the author. In my 10 years of work in the sports betting industry, I have had the opportunity to go through all six levels with varying degrees of immersion. Some forecasts I am not proud of, others, on the contrary, I consider worthy. The experience of being inside this matrix gives an advantage: looking at the forecast, you can immediately understand which of the levels of neutrality it belongs to.
Absolute objectivity. In the nature of forecasts, it occurs at the very initial level and does not represent anything interesting at all.
- Shorthand – correspondence of what happened in the last / before last / a month ago match. Over time, it is done on the basis of viewing scoring chances on Youtube;
- Excessive attribution – many small, unnecessary moments;
- False equivalence – an attempt to give equivalent conclusions for both sides of the match;
- Lack of analytics;
- Lack of opinion of the author;
And most importantly – the absolute uselessness of such forecasts.
Forecasts are based solely on statistics. You can use it, especially if a deep study of the facts is given. But it’s better to draw your own conclusions.
- Unbiased analysis – only numbers, nothing else;
- Declaration of Independence – all data are presented in full;
- Conscientious fact-checking, but with reservations;
- Strict standards against taking any side;
- Several clear conclusions.
The neutral level of forecasts is an introductory part of the main analysis. The player receives the data, uses it at his own discretion. In fact, the best characteristic of this gradation is: “You never remember who specifically gave you this prediction.” Just numbers.
The author of the forecast skillfully operates with numbers, knowledge, and information. The rate is given from personal beliefs and preferences. The involved level is the antagonism of neutrality and should be used in that vein. Look at the author’s statistics, his ability to draw the right conclusions, to think critically about his past failures.
- Neutrality in the presentation of digital information – the data is as impartial as possible;
- Hard fact-checking, especially at key points – info about injuries, disqualifications, judges, weather, etc. checked thoroughly;
- Personal opinion of the author about important game features, tactical models, strategic plans, etc.;
- No false information – the evidence base is more important than the forecast itself;
- The accentuated interest in different positions is an attempt to convey to the reader that the forecaster’s opinion is not ideal, and it can and should be challenged.
At the same time the most correct and most difficult type of forecasting. A thinking player, after reading such a forecast, will highlight for himself the right moments that you can rely on when making a bet. Most will pass by, as they will not see the specifics in the bet.
The forecaster protects his bet with all sorts of barriers: numbers, facts (sometimes false), subjective opinion, etc. You can use this one if you “clear” it of personal empathy.
- Specialized data sampling – information is presented from one angle, without an alternative;
- An in-depth analysis of the “correct” game moments – the forecast can be based on generally one or two freeze frames from the match;
- A clearly defined bet, often at the very beginning of the forecast (“I will bet on this because”;
- Attention to other points of view only from the position of ridiculing it;
- Frequent involvement of general opinion (“on the Internet, many predict”).
Unfortunately, there are a lot of such forecasts on the Internet. And it’s good if the author is really so self-confident that he is ready to put a “hut” on the indicated rate. Most often, this is just a person who plays with large amounts “on a piece of paper”, who can simply erase any failure with the Del key and show the perfect statistics of the latest predictions. Most carefully!
The closest level of forecast to propaganda, but still with the appearance of one’s own opinion. If you find two authors of a “committed” level with different stakes, you get the perfect crossing – a battle of opinions with the right conclusions.
- Statistics, data, analysis – everything is used only to confirm the forecaster’s opinion;
- Personal attacks on opponents, both in the forecast and in the comments;
- Missing or biased fact-checking;
- An attempt to “denigrate” the personal qualities of the opponent;
- Complete disregard for any analytical materials that do not correspond to the forecast;
- Demagogic criticism of the opponent;
- Opinion boils down to “us versus them”;
- Willingly attracting any media personalities to confirm the forecast.
It is interesting from the point of view of show and emotions to pit forecasters of a committed level. But useless for practical purposes. A lot of noise, loud statements, curses and transitions to personalities. Little useful and informative. Dangerous for players who easily succumb to provocations.
The most striking level of non-neutrality of the forecast. The author has long gone from his own point of view and preaches only what is necessary. A useless prediction, but one that often finds its inexperienced reader and player.
- Fabrications and lies;
- Exaltation of heroes (“he has passed 20 bets in a row, who is next with him”);
- Demonization of opponents, often having nothing to do with the forecast;
- Making fun of other people’s mistakes;
- Hateful comments, getting personal;
- Dependence on beautiful slogans;
- An appeal to base feelings (thirst for easy money, beautiful cars, gorgeous girls, hatred for those that are richer).
At a certain stage in the development of sports betting (and indeed any gaming industry), the level of “propaganda” becomes dominant. He is in great demand, exalts himself and is exalted by word of mouth. Then it gradually disappears, leaving behind a negative halo of the gambling sphere, which lasts for a very long time.
No matter how frightening the words “propaganda”, “advocacy” may sound, there is nothing wrong with them in terms of forecasting. We have already said at the beginning about the “forecast sea”, now we will continue the thought. Each player catches his own fish in this sea. For some, sprats are enough, while others definitely want to catch bluefin tuna or whales. It is important not to make a mistake. To do this, think critically. Any forecast needs to be checked: what kind of information is given, in what volume, in what quality. As for the neutrality of the forecast, it is worth highlighting for yourself those authors whose opinion you trust, or at least listen to.
From the author. Over time, the understanding came that the complete neutrality of the forecast is useless information. A competent player can find the statistics himself, analyze it, and identify the bet. My task, as a forecaster, is to give my own assessment of figures, analytical data, and visual impressions. But that’s a completely different story.
Betting is fun. But in your favorite hobby you have to be the best!
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