PRINCETON, NJ—Noting that none of the game’s earlier events factored into the final outcome in any way whatsoever, a study released Wednesday by researchers at Princeton University revealed that 96 percent of all pickup games are decided by the next score. “We examined more than 1,000 games over the past five years and found that in the overwhelming majority of cases—be it pickup basketball, football, hockey, or soccer—the next team to score wins,” said study co-author Amy Lakin, adding that pickup outings frequently switch to a sudden-death format as soon as one of the players observes that it’s getting too dark out or that the energy of both teams has drastically diminished over the past 10 minutes. “Oftentimes—in roughly 80 percent of instances—the person to suggest that the next score wins is visibly tired and out of breath. We also found that the decisive nature of the game’s conclusion is almost always posed by the team that had given up the previous basket, touchdown, or goal, which is also generally the same team that would have been losing by a wide margin had anyone been keeping reliable track of the score.” Lakin added that although most players agree to call it a night following the next score, a caveat is often added that requires teams to win by two, ultimately prolonging each game by an average of 40 minutes.
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