Most things you can measure about people are on a bell curve. A small number of people are bad, most are in the middle and a few are good. There are a few good known metrics of ability. None are perfect, there is no one number that can sum up ability. The simpler the sport the more one metric can tell you, in cycling VO2 max is a very good indicator. Whereas in soccer VO2 max, kicking speed, vertical leap, number of keep me ups you can do etc could all measure some part of football ability.

So say there was one good metric for a task and teams were picked based on this. Is the standard strict alteration, where Team 1 picks then Team 2 alternating, fair? Fair here meaning both teams end up with a similar quality.

I wrote a program in R Package. Not because I know it but because it is perfect for this sort of problem. If you are picking 5 a side and the best player left is always picked by a team how much better is the first picker?

**Strict Alteration** the code is

players<-10 #create a vector z <-0 #run 10000 simulations for(i in 1:10000) { #rnorm generates a normally distributed dataset # this one has 10 elements. A mean of 100 and a std of 12 #sort puts the biggest at the end x <- c(sort(rnorm(players, mean=100, sd=12))) # for each simulation take every second one and put it into a different team. # Give one team even and one odd z <- append(z, sum(x[c(1,3,5,7,9)]-x[c(2,4,6,8,10)])) } print(sd(z)) #get the average difference between the two teams print(mean(z))

> print(sd(z))

[1] 8.794016

> print(mean(z))

[1] -22.59786

IQ has an average of 100 and a standard deviation of 12. IQ isn't used much to pick soccer teams but many things follow a similar pattern. In software development IQ wouldn't be the worst metric to pick a team on and agile teams are supposed to have between 5 and 9 members. So think of this as people picking teams of developers.

In this simulation Team 1 ends up with .225 of a person advantage. The more people on the team the greater advantage the first picker gets.

18 players

> print(sd(z))

[1] 8.287164

> print(mean(z))

[1] -25.52077

16 players

> print(sd(z))

[1] 8.20681

> print(mean(z))

[1] -25.00685

Would another way of picking the teams be fairer?

**Balanced Alteration** from the Win Win Solution by Brams and Taylor
'strict alteration can give a big boost to the first chooser when there are only two parties. What we need to do is reduce this advantage of the first chooser by amending strict alternation.'

The balanced alteration allows the captains to be first chooser in turn.

This is

Team 1 Team 2 Team 2 Team 1 Team 1 Team 2 Team 2 Team 1....

the code is

players<-10 #create a vector z <-0 #run 10000 simulations for(i in 1:10000) { #rnorm generates a normally distributed dataset # this one has 10 elements. A mean of 100 and a std of 12 #sort puts the biggest at the end x <- c(sort(rnorm(players, mean=100, sd=12))) # for each simulation take every second one and put it into a different team. # Give one team even and one odd z <- append(z, sum(x[c(1,4,5,8,9)]-x[c(2,3,6,7,10)])) } print(sd(z)) print(mean(z))

> print(sd(z))

[1] 9.757417

> print(mean(z))

[1] -9.04198

This method looks better than the standard strict alteration.

Thinking about the bell curve though is would make sense if the team that got the best player got the worst, and the second best the second worst etc. This should even up the teams well. The code for this is

players<-10 #create a vector z <-0 #run 10000 simulations for(i in 1:10000) { #rnorm generates a normally distributed dataset # this one has 10 elements. A mean of 100 and a std of 12 #sort puts the biggest at the end x <- c(sort(rnorm(players, mean=100, sd=12))) # for each simulation take every second one and put it into a different team. # Give one team even and one odd z <- append(z, sum(x[c(2,4,6,7,9)]-x[c(1,3,5,8,10)])) } print(sd(z)) print(mean(z))

> print(sd(z))

[1] 9.3498

> print(mean(z))

[1] 3.027536

This has a better average difference. The fact the difference is as high as it is makes me think I may have a bug in my code.

Kids to implement this method would have to alternate picking a player until they were about to pick the middle player in their team Then Team 2 would get a second pick. This sounds almost practical.

When you played a sport (particularly soccer) as a kid what rules did you pick teams by? Can you think of a better algorithm now?