Nice article by King Kaufman over on Salon about scoring (in the World Cup, that is). As he points out, the statistic that the ESPN guys insist on throwing into our faces at every possible opportunity (i.e., "the team that scores first is 21-2-3 in this tournament so far!") is basically meaningless; in a low-scoring sport like soccer, scoring any goal is crucial, so the fact that the team that scores first wins much of the time is obvious and uninteresting. The interesting statistic is the one they never mention: as Kaufman puts it:
If a goal is scored and ESPN flashes a graphic saying, "Teams that have scored first are 22-3-3," I, the typical American sports fan who doesn't care about soccer, will think, "Well, there's about a four-in-five chance that this baby's over. I believe I will turn off the TV, kick my dog, curse some foreigners and play with my assault rifle."
But if that graphic said, "Teams that have scored second are 17-2-3," I'm going to want to stick around to see which team can come up with that all-important tally. Better for me, better for ESPN and way better for the dog.