Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Does racing Gueorgiou or Niggli make you worse?


Put yourself in the shoes of a world class orienteer. You're getting ready for a big race - a WOC or a World Cup - but you know that you're going up against Thierry Gueorgiou or Simone Niggli. Does facing a superstar help or hurt your performance?

Maybe racing against a superstar inspires you. You push harder, focus better. Your performance is better. But, you still (probably) finish behind the superstar. Or maybe racing against a superstar weakens your performance. You feel like a perfect run won't quite be enough. You aren't quite as inspired or prepared as you should be. Or maybe you feel like a perfect run won't quite be enough, so you take a lot of chances.

Does facing a superstar help or hurt your performance? It is an interesting question.

Jennifer Brown, a PhD candidate at UC-Berkeley, looked at an analogous question by studying how golfers performed when Tiger Woods was competing. Basically, she found that top professional golfers performed worse when facing Tiger Woods. It is a bit more complicated (and interesting) than that. So, if you're interested you should read the paper (see the link at Jennifer Brown's collection of working papers).

Here is the abstract of her paper:

Managers use internal competition to motivate worker effort, yet I present a simple economic model suggesting that the benefits of competition depend critically on workers' relative abilities---large differences in skill may reduce competitors' efforts. This paper uses panel data from professional golfers and finds that the presence of a superstar in a rank-order tournament is associated with lower competitor performance. On average, higher-skill PGA golfers' tournament scores are 0.8 strokes higher when Tiger Woods participates, relative to when Woods is absent. Lower-skill players' scores appear unaffected by the superstar's presence. The adverse superstar effect increases during Woods's streaks and disappears during Woods's slumps. There is no evidence that reduced performance is due to "riskier" play.

Tiny Map Update

I started, but didn't finish, my weekend project.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:54 PM


My team produces several of these tiny maps for a project we started in primary schools in 2005. The idea is to have a map close to every primary school so that doing orienteering in school-time doesn't require long traveling.

they can be found here

and here

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