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Math Science

NFL Releases Deflategate Report 225

_xeno_ writes: You may remember back in February that Slashdot covered the NFL asking Columbia University for help investigating Deflategate, a scandal where the New England Patriots were caught deflating their footballs in order to make them easier to catch. The Patriots claimed this was simply a result of the weather, while their opponents disagreed. Well, it's been months, but we finally have our answer: the balls were, in fact, knowingly deflated by the Patriots (to no one's surprise). And while science can explain a little deflation, it cannot explain the amount of deflation seen during the game. Which isn't stopping Boston fans from attacking the science. The report stops short of certainty, though, concluding rather that deliberate underinflation was "more likely than not." Not everyone agrees that a conspiracy is necessary to account for the measured pressure readings.
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NFL Releases Deflategate Report

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  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:29PM (#49639507) Homepage

    No surprise they can't understand science. Have you met the average football fan?

    • Re:Boston fans... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:34PM (#49639559)
      It's not that they don't understand it, it is that they don't WANT to understand it, and therefore pretend that what the team said makes sense. Big difference.
    • by alen ( 225700 )

      yeah, anyone who can afford $10,000 a year for season tickets is obviously dumb

  • Game balls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:32PM (#49639535)

    The NFL should provide all game balls, selected randomly prior to each use. Bringing your own game balls is a pretty obvious vector for manipulating the game.

    • Re:Game balls (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:40PM (#49639635)

      The NFL should provide all game balls, selected randomly prior to each use. Bringing your own game balls is a pretty obvious vector for manipulating the game.

      I was actually shocked when I found out the teams supplied the balls and not the league since it makes it so ripe for cheating.

      • Re:Game balls (Score:5, Interesting)

        by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:51PM (#49639779) Homepage Journal

        Guess who pushed that rule through, though.

        Did you guess "the New England Patriots quarterback who we now know was cheating using that rule?"

        Because, guess what, you'd be right!

        • Peyton Manning as well.

          • by Rolgar ( 556636 )

            While these two spearheaded the current rule, I've read that more than 20 quarterbacks advocated for the rule. The point of allowing the teams to have the balls the week before the game is to allow equipment managers to massage the balls the week before the game to condition the balls to their quarterback's or wide receiver's preferences, mostly by wearing the waxy cover off the leather so the balls are less likely to slip. They may also be able to soften the leather through some method of their preference.

    • And they should use the same ball for the entire game, for all purposes. Any wear the ball takes is "part of the game" and neither team should be able to change out balls on a whim because of any perceived advantage.

      The only time the ball should be replaced is if it deflates and cannot be reinflated. I might even throw in checking and re-inflating to standard pressure at the start of every quarter but only if a ball would show anything more than a nominal loss in pressure throughout the game.

      • Balls are replaced for various reasons.
        If it's raining they want to replace a wet ball with a dry ball. Same if it's muddy. Plus players have stuff on them ( for example glue from tape ) that rub off on the ball. So no.

        Besides there is a rule that kickers use totally different balls.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:34PM (#49639561)
    Can we please stop tacking -gate on to the end of every scandal?

    It's not clever when everyone is doing it, especially with trivial crap like this.
  • by _xeno_ ( 155264 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:34PM (#49639565) Homepage Journal

    It's a report written by a lawyer. "More probably than not" is a legal term meaning "guilty in the civil sense, but not in the criminal sense." Essentially the lawyers writing the report are saying "yes, they're definitely guilty, but I'm not willing to say this meets the standards of criminal justice."

    • by jmac_the_man ( 1612215 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:43PM (#49639675)
      This isn't true. "More probable than not" is the standard that the NFL judges violations of the Playing Rules by. It approximately means "we've proven guilt sufficiently for us to impose punishment."

      In the American legal system, the analogous state is "guilty."

      Wells didn't have to get to "beyond a reasonable doubt," the standard for a criminal investigation, because that would be gilding the lily. The NFL can impose punishment at "more probably than not."

      This is all explained on the first page of the Wells Report.

      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        In the American legal system, the analogous state is "guilty."

        No, that actually is much more analogous to the civil versus criminal standards of evidence. While not as bad as a criminal conviction, losing a lawsuit or receiving an administrative fine are not pleasant either.

    • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:58PM (#49639873) Homepage

      It sounds a lot like "we don't have incontrovertible direct proof but every shred of circumstantial evidence is in line with our assertion".

      I bet they would meet the "preponderance of evidence" standard but not the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.

      • The evidence met the standard set by the NFL, which was stated at the beginning of the report. This isn't a court of law. Those rules do not apply here. Amazingly people don't understand that.
        • Honestly, I didn't care enough to pay attention when this "controversy" broke. Given the fact that they scored more points after the balls were inflated properly, not to mention the fact that the outcome of a football game has zero real impact on my life, I found this whole flap to be little more than noise on my Facebook feed. The only reason I even knew about the decision is that a story showed up on the news. And then it showed up here. I still don't care enough to go and read all of the history of t

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:37PM (#49639599)
    One of the guys who handled the balls actually called himself "the deflator" in his text messages. Text messages are here [theguardian.com].

    McNally (4:39:40pm): Nice dude....jimmy needs some kicks....lets make a deal.....come on help the deflator

    • Summary of the report:

      McNally (a team employee) deflated the balls
      Brady knew about the deflation
      Bill Belichick did not.
    • The one thing I didn't notice until now is that the balls were often over-inflated by the NFL, they said some of the were 16 psi, where they should be between 12.5 and 13.5. In that case, they were doing the right thing.

  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwiecmmm ( 1527631 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:38PM (#49639603)

    Why is this story here?

    What is next a Real Housewives story?

    • Why is this story here?...

      Page hits.

    • by metlin ( 258108 )

      Some of the greatest minds have been interested in seemingly trivial and popular problems (e.g., Richard Feynman).

      This is about science and engineering, and whether or not a phenomena can occur, and it's about public's reaction to something that was proven scientifically.

      Plus, a lot of Slashdot's readers are American, and some of us are geeks who like -- wait for this -- football!

      • Plus, a lot of Slashdot's readers are American, and some of us are geeks who like -- wait for this -- football!

        I am an American and I like football (and I am not a Patriots fan). But the science here is merely measuring PSI on footballs and testing it under different temperatures and pressures. This set of testing could have been done by a 13 year old. It is nothing new, nothing that technological or challenging and it most likely will have little to no impact on anything other than giving news stations and websites something to talk about for a few days. Oh the Patriots might get a fine, or possibly lose a draf

  • If you can't attack the facts, attack the messenger. Sort of SOP these days.
  • by Kadagan AU ( 638260 ) <kadagan.gmail@com> on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:41PM (#49639651) Journal
    Roger Goodell is pretty well known for loving the Patriots, so it's very hard to believe that he would hire a biased research firm to prove there was cheating.. If anything I'd expect him to hire a firm which would prove there wasn't cheating!
  • WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Thursday May 07, 2015 @12:50PM (#49639769) Homepage Journal

    At least the political stuff, the spying stuff, etc. is 'stuff that matters'. This? Just bandwagon jumping clickbait. Is there no way this story could have been spun to include testing standards, analysis of effect on the game, or something even vaguely, remotely applicable to the audience of this site?

    • I know that Slashdot in general loves to follow the stereotypical nerd rage against sports and jocks, but there are some of us who love it all. I love technology and I love athletics--especially when you combine the two. This story actually had the potential for geeking out. They did this over at 538: http://fivethirtyeight.com/dat... [fivethirtyeight.com]

      That's the angle that Slashdot should have taken, but not everybody here is an obese, cheetos-loving, basement dweller.

    • by g01d4 ( 888748 )
      Scientific analysis was used to investigate the deflation. Statistical analysis was used to investigate the probability of this being a random occurrence. An unusual application of both and there's the political aspect of "fans ... attacking the science".
  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @01:26PM (#49640209) Journal
    The score of the game was 45-7 [wikipedia.org]. The Patriots only scored 17 points in the 1st half, when the under-inflated footballs were discovered. The patriots scored their remaining 28 points in the 2nd half with normally inflated footballs. The 1 or 2 under-inflated balls that were used had minimal impact on the result of the game, even in gambling terms, as the Patriots beat the spread by 38 points. I'm not condoning cheating, but in this instance, it appeared to have been completely unnecessary from the start, so the level of coverage a trivial matter like this is getting is ridiculous.
    • Yes it really matters. Cheating is cheating is cheating. And this isn't the Pats first go round of being accused of cheating.This time there is no question they cheated except to the excuse makers.
    • The Patriots only scored 17 points in the 1st half, when the under-inflated footballs were discovered. The patriots scored their remaining 28 points in the 2nd half with normally inflated footballs.

      Who knows how the game might've gone without the under-inflated balls in the first half? Maybe the other side were psychologically defeated by the lead the Patriots had thanks to cheating in the first half. Maybe they were forced into some risky tactics which failed to pay off.

      I mean, maybe not, I have no idea about the two teams involved. But you can't just extrapolate directly from one half to the other.

      • Maybe the other side were psychologically defeated by the lead the Patriots had thanks to cheating in the first half.

        The only reason they discovered a deflated ball was because one of the Colt's players intercepted one of the Pat's passes. The Patriots only had a 10 point lead at the half. I don't think it had any real effect on the game.

    • Football isn't like most other games. Everything about it is designed to be hyper-dramatic -- histrionic even. If you have any doubts, watch a few NFL films with their martial music and moralistically thrilling tales of redemption and damnation.

      It starts with the small number of games played. The average NFL player over the course of his entire career is eligible to play in one third the number of regular season games a baseball player does in a single season. So every football game is a big deal. The st

      • Like I said, I don't condone cheating. My point was that the cheating didn't influence the final result (a Patriots win), not that it wasn't wrong.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          I understand. But you asked whether it mattered, and my point is that's a very different question than "is it likely to have made a difference."

          You can't say, "this would almost certainly have made no difference, so there was in practical terms no harm done," because the whole point of football is to see improbable plays shift the tide of fortune back and forth. It may be highly improbable that Colts fans were robbed of a victory, but it's quite possible that they were robbed of a memorable play. If the

  • I very rarely complain that a story doesn't belong on Slashdot, but this time I will, because this is probably the least Slashdot-worthy story I've seen yet.

    This is not news for nerds. This does not matter.

    • Re:SlashJock? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by David_Hart ( 1184661 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @02:05PM (#49640693)

      I very rarely complain that a story doesn't belong on Slashdot, but this time I will, because this is probably the least Slashdot-worthy story I've seen yet.

      This is not news for nerds. This does not matter.

      This could be worth of Slashdot if were were discussing the science, the need for proper scientific method, etc. But , much like sports reporters, a lot of people are blowing by this because the bias is that sports and science do not mix.

      - It's interesting that the scientific firm used to back up the findings of the report once produced reports that second hand smoke didn't cause cancer
      - It's interesting that the report relies on the Refs remembering the starting PSI values. We know just how unreliable memory is
      - From a scientific standpoint, it would be trivial to rip apart the findings of the report

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday May 07, 2015 @02:27PM (#49640969)

    "If any reporter adds -gate to a scandal, it means the scandal isn't worth mentioning"

  • *shrug* By all measures actually having properly inflated balls caused the Pats to play better... it doesn't seem this was much of an "advantage."

    With that all said... I was also shocked to find out that the NFL didn't just supply the balls... it seems obvious. Let's let the pitchers bring their own baseballs to the baseball game... what could possibly go wrong....
    • My understanding is that the NFL provides the balls to the team. The team is then allowed to prepare the balls ( ie scuff them up ) the way they like.

      BTW MLB lets players bring their own bats.

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