This is the program for the 2010 Joint Statistical Meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Abstract Details

Activity Number: 671
Type: Contributed
Date/Time: Thursday, August 5, 2010 : 10:30 AM to 12:20 PM
Sponsor: Section on Statistics in Sports
Abstract - #309387
Title: False Starts and Alternative Hypotheses
Author(s): Michael Rotkowitz*+
Companies: The University of Melbourne
Address: Dept of EEE (Bldg 193), Parkville, VIC, 3010, Australia
Keywords: track and field ; sports

A sprinter is considered to have false started, not if s/he starts prior to the firing of the starter's pistol, but if s/he starts within 0.1 seconds of its firing. Since this rule was implemented, runners have indeed been disqualified for starting after the gun but prior to this threshold. The justification is that it would be extremely unlikely or impossible for a human to react that quickly if s/he had waited for the gun, but the likelihood of the alternative is never considered. In this paper we consider the modeling of perceived reaction times given that a false start occurred, and then compare the likelihoods of false and fair starts for the range of times out of the blocks. We then revisit this rule to discuss its fairness and possible alternatives.

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