904: Sports

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 08:32, 21 February 2013 by Davidy22 (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
Also, all financial analysis. And, more directly, D&D.
Title text: Also, all financial analysis. And, more directly, D&D.


First, a random number generator is something that can give a person any number within a range of numbers. (Or, possibly, any number at all.) For example, a single die will give you any integer between 1 and 6 inclusive.

Second, with an unweighted random number generator each number that is possible has an equal chance of coming up. For example, on a single die there is usually an equal chance of getting a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.

Third, a weighed random number generator is one were some numbers are more likely to come-up than others. For example, a weighted die might favor the 6 side more, and thus it will come-up more often.

This comic is referencing the fact that sports, all sports, generate numbers that are essentially random. The rules of the sport and the skill of the participants weighs the numbers toward certain outcomes. Every game produces a new batch of numbers: more home runs, more sacks, more passes, more shots, more hits, more misses, more goals. If the generator is weighted to favor a specific team in a specific game, that is discussed. Then the results of the game (more random numbers) are discussed. It's the discussion that is the narrative part. If a player breaks a record, that becomes part of the narrative. The number is random, but weighted because of player skill or the rules of the sport.

The title text applies this to financial/stock results/forecasts as well. And, most appropriately to Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), which is a game where most aspects of the game are determined by rolling dice of various numbers of sides and the numerical results are woven into a narrative by the Dungeon Master.


[Two commentators sit behind a desk.]
Commentator 1: A weighted random number generator just produced a new batch of numbers.
Commentator 2: Let's use them to build narratives!
comment.png add a comment! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


This comic highlights the tendency to interpret so-called "events" based on essentially random, day-to-day changes that are indistinguishable from trends. Sports writers and directly accused of this. Financial analysts are equally culpable. D&D Dungeon Masters are guilty as well, but I reckon Randall states this somewhat tongue-in-cheek as the role of a DM is to deliberately spin a good yarn. --Smartin (talk) 04:21, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

having lived in america and abroad, i think this applies heavily to america more so than other countries, although, more generally, we could throw in other countries that have 24-hour sports coverage (which is not most). similar to 24-hour news coverage, eventually you're going to be left with dead air once you're done with real news and so you invent narratives and sensationalise the most insignificant events. as for some evidence that this is an american thing and not "all sports commentary", see trevor noah's take: Trevor Noah - Sports in America -- 19:53, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Got a link?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 19:46, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Personal tools


It seems you are using noscript, which is stopping our project wonderful ads from working. Explain xkcd uses ads to pay for bandwidth, and we manually approve all our advertisers, and our ads are restricted to unobtrusive images and slow animated GIFs. If you found this site helpful, please consider whitelisting us.

Want to advertise with us, or donate to us with Paypal or Bitcoin?