Conference Constraints - Doomed to Failure....by Dave Green
I used to be a huge fan of averages. I could pore over lists of stats for hours on end and, sadly, found them to be endlessly fascinating. I think the thing I liked most was their simplicity. A simple number told me everything I needed to know about a rider. I could tell exactly how good he was, who he was better than, and how important he had been to his team. Few other sports could encapsulate a performer's worth in such a non-subjective manner.
Nowadays, I scarcely look at them. It's all become far too complicated.
In years gone by a rider's average was a simple calculation that yielded an unambiguous result. Over recent years the increasing number of complexities, variations and exceptions have made it virtually impossible to determine a rider's average. The number of arguments over averages has also increased dramatically.
Just this winter we have seen Jason Lyons and Stuart Robson as central figures in the latest average wars. It seems that Lyons cannot revert to his 2004 Elite League average to ride in the 2005 Elite League, however Robson can use a 2003 Premier League average in the 2005 Premier League. That Robson's average was attained while 'doubling down' and Lyons came from his matches as a regular Elite League rider only increases my confusion. These decisions are clearly totally inconsistent and I'd love to hear the official justification for the discrepancy.
Another case that baffled me was the move of Eric Carrillo from Wolves to Glasgow last season. He was able to drop down on a three point average because the bonus points he scored in the Elite League were ignored when calculating his new Premier League average. I can never recall that happening before, although it may have, but it appeared to be a rather convenient way of ensuring that this Wolves' asset could be accommodated at another club.
The Elite League this season has elected to exclude bonus points from the averages they use for team building. This is an excellent move in my book, it's a much fairer means of comparison than the inflated averages that well balanced teams can often accrue. My only beef is that the Premier League hasn't followed suit, thus we now have the two leagues using similar but different methods of controlling team strengths. Is there really a need for this?
I remain convinced that a points limit, based on averages, is the best way forward for the sport. It ensures that no club becomes too strong but it does not constrain team building in the way that grading systems do. All I'd like to see is a straightforward, transparent and consistent method of assigning averages to riders - is that really too much to ask?
This article was first published on 15th January 2005
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