Win, Lose or Punt?

To punt (Informal): To cease doing something; give up. (“Let’s punt on this and try something else.”)

Predicting the scores for opposing teams in sporting events is a fascinating minor sidelight to our more ponderous cartomantic excursions, and – at least in my experience – one that seldom yields accurate results. I’ve come to believe that “win, lose or draw” may be the closest we as diviners can come to precision in the world of sports.

Part of the problem is the inherent nature of the contest involved. Some games have very limited scoring opportunities (hockey and international football), others have exceptionally high-scoring output (basketball), still others have scoring that comes in irregular clusters (baseball), some have winning numbers measured in fractions of a second (racing); and perhaps the worst case is the sport where the lowest score wins (golf). Matching these up with the numerical structure of the cards is often problematic. When the variability introduced by one team or dominant star having an “off” day is factored in, the obstacles to success seem insurmountable. Then there is the matter of reversals: if we decide to use them, do they indicate a “no score” period of the match for the affected team? (I’ve tried them and so far they don’t seem to work that way). Finally, spread structure also has a bearing on how the points are allocated; one position per team per standard period of a match seems like a good place to start, but there may be other ways that work better.

In a standard tarot deck, we have 40 pip cards totaling 55 points per suit for a grand total of 220 (which can be numerologically reduced to “4”). We have 22 trump cards that, taken cumulatively, add to 231 (reducing to “6”). If we choose to give numbers to the court cards, we have four per suit that total 50 or “5” (11+12+13+14 = 50; 5+0 = 5), for another 200 points. Obviously, a full set of any of these populations will never appear in a single reading, but this exercise illustrates the problem we face with numeration. The situation with playing cards is slightly less severe, since in most cases only the pip cards would be used.

Which brings me to my current thinking on the subject. I’ve been debating using only the pip cards when trying to forecast the scoring by either team during the standard intervals of a match, and also for overtime periods. They seem to offer the greatest flexibility for manipulating the numbers in ways that make the most sense to the sport under consideration. For low-scoring contests, it could be as simple as going to a “binary” model, randomly selecting one card for each team per period and giving a score of “1” to the team with the higher-numbered card and “0” to the other (no score to either for a tie). For sports where single-digit scoring per period is the norm, it may be best to use only half of the pip cards (Aces through Fives) and take the cards at face value, using reversal to show “no score” stretches. Where scoring typically reaches double-digits, applying the whole deck with judicious use of numerological reduction seems feasible, and for high-scoring (triple-digit) events,  multiple cards in each position may be required to approximate reality. Some sports, like golf and racing, I think I will leave alone and stay with the “win-or-lose” paradigm.

In short, there are a variety of creative ways to “flay the proverbial feline” (if you’re not familiar with English-language colloquialisms, google “skin the cat”). I’m starting to zero in on the scoring mechanics for American football as reinterpreted in the cards, but I have a long way to go to get comfortable with other sports. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Back to the grindstone . . .

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