Technocracy and Transparency

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to listen to Radio National’s Saturday Extra program. One of the items was a conversation between the presenter, Geraldine Doouge, and Parag Khanna.

Their discussion about the characteristics of governance in Singapore and Switzerland encouraged me to think about how sport might benefit from a sensitive merging of enlightened investment in and engagement with technology with transparent discussions about decision-making and civic engagement.

Parag calls this merging ‘direct technocracy‘. He points out:

This approach combines the virtues of direct democracy with the benefits of meritocratic technocracy, which leverages data to make long-term, utilitarian decisions. Simply put, a direct technocracy marries good ideas and efficient execution.

I think the marriage of ‘good ideas and efficient execution’ is made possible by transparent discussion of the kind evident in ‘the hyper-democratic Switzerland’. Parag says of Switzerland and Singapore:

their records are impressive: both countries boast good health, ample wealth, low corruption, high employment, national military and civil services, and massive state investment in innovation. They respond efficiently to citizens’ needs and preferences, apply international experience to domestic policy making, and use data and alternative scenarios for long-term planning.

There is an interesting blend occurring here: ‘responsiveness’, ‘international experience’ and ‘long-term planning’. All of which encourage me to think about how we adapt better practice to local circumstances.

It seems to me that given the opportunities sport has to generate data, a ‘direct technocracy’ responsiveness to long-term performance should have immense appeal.  I sense that this requires us to re-imagine how we lead and follow in sport organisations.

Photo Credits

Singapore Night (Bailey Cheng, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Switzerland (KP Tripathi, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A graphical display of a football game played in Delft


Jurryt van de Vooren has unearthed a notation from a game of football played between Delfia Hollandia Combinatie (DHC) and Goudse Sportvereniging (GSV). The record indicates that this was a promotion game (promotie-wedstrijd).

The Delpher newspaper archive has a digital copy of the notation. This was published on 2 May 1932 in the Delftsche Courant. There is a match report too (Een narrow escape) for the game played on 1 May 1932.

In Dutch, the title of the notation is: De verplaasting van den bal is grafisch weergegeven in de lengterichting van het veld.

I wondered if this might be the appropriate translation: The ball displacement is graphically displayed in the longitudinal direction of the field.

The Notation

The displacement is notated with the help of nine symbols.

First half

Second half

The notation has a time reference for each possession in the game. The time is set in blocks of five minutes with single minutes marked within each five-minute block.

I wondered if the accuracy of timing used some of the chronographs available at that time. This is one from Longines in 1929:

I wondered too where the analyst sat during the game. There appeared to be a big crowd there.

Match Report

Both teams are listed in the report in their 2-3-5 formations. One of the DHC players, Joop van Nellen (1910-1992) played for the Netherlands in twenty-seven international fixtures. He made his debut in December 1928, aged 18, and played his last game (against Belgium) in February 1937. He won his first twelve caps while playing for Delft at the second level of Dutch football.

Gouda won the toss and chose to play with the sun and wind at their backs.

Gouda scored first in the 13th minute. It took forty minutes for Delft to equalise. One minute later Delft took the lead. A goal in the 89th minute gave Delft a 3v1 win.

Pattern of Play

Delft were the home team and appeared to control the game for large parts of the notation.

Gouda’s goal looks like a very efficient counterattack:

After losing the lead in the second half, Gouda have an intense five minutes working to get back into the game (and have one shot in this time):

Delft control the final quarter of the game. Their goalkeeper is involved only once in this time. The game ends with Gouda on the attack after conceding a third goal.

A Case Study

I think this notation, one of the earliest in association football, would make for a fascinating discussion in performance analysis classes that spend some time considering real-time and lapsed-time hand notation.

There is sufficient detail for us to construct a narrative of the game.

It would be a great project to annotate a present-day game in the same way. There is, for example, just one formally noted stoppage in play in the entire game (14th minute of the first half). Time added on by the referee is 2 minutes in the first half and approximately 90 seconds in the second half. What has changed in the game in nine decades?

Photo Credits

DHC in action (Delftsche Courant, 2 May 1932)

Notations (Delftsche Courant, 2 May 1932)

A game of football … from 1932

Jurryt van de Vooren is pushing back the historical record of the notational analysis of football.

His latest discovery was for a game played in Delft on 1 May 1932.

It is a record of a game between Delfia Hollandia Combinatie (DHC) and Goudse Sportvereniging (GSV).

My research indicates that this was an amateur game of football but I will need to check this with Jurryt. It is an excellent possession map that indicates where each possession ends in each half of the game.

I will return to this notation as soon as possible but I am keen to share Jurryt’s discovery. One line of enquiry I will follow now is whether Charles Reep’s and Neil Lanham’s notations used a similar approach in their early days of recording games.

The 1932 game notation has a record of where possession was won and lost as well as a time (within 1 minute) stamp by each half of the game.

For a more recent discussion see this Clyde Street post.