His 25 years were up. In the meantime, however, an operation had been devised for cases such as his. So he went about finding a surgeon. His barber worked on Los Angeles' Doctors Row, an area cluttered with high-rise medical buildings. The barber would ask all his clients, many of them doctors, who the best surgeon for the operation would be. Goode called this his Barber's Poll, and when the results overwhelmingly pointed to one man, he arranged to be operated on by him. The operation is successful in all but three of 100 cases and with odds of 33 to 1 Goode felt comfortable. Three days after he came out of surgery, however, his heart began hemorrhaging and he had to be rushed back in. This time the anesthetic didn't put him all the way to sleep. Although he was paralyzed and couldn't talk he hadn't lost his hearing and feeling. "Open him up," he heard one doctor say and then he had an experience he would just as soon never repeat. "Are you plugged in?" a doctor asked somebody Goode could not see. "Hell, I don't know where anything goes," came the answer. It was at this point, Goode says, that he began to refigure the odds. His heart stopped twice during the second operation.
His recuperation lasted six weeks and was followed by hepatitis, which sidelined him for five more months. That brought him to the end of 1972. In the meantime the last of the Linkletter-Guedel shows was taken off the air, so Goode decided to make his avocation his vocation.
"I want to marry statistical methodology to the speed of a computer," he says now, "for the purpose of bringing reliability into the analysis and interpretation of the news." Goode envisions a day when he will operate a computer service providing reliable information in many different fields to all media forms. As a start, National Football League Properties hired him to create the statistical charts in this year's Super Bowl program. He has concentrated on sports, particularly pro football, because he can get needed exposure from it, but he has explored other areas, such as Supreme Court decisions, economics and even recipes. "The Kitchen Computer" would produce recipes for the women's page each week that would minimize the food budget while maximizing vitamins and minerals. "Research shows that the average housewife spends 150% more than she needs to for food and doesn't give her family a balanced diet," says Goode. One presumes this is during those times when she is not dividing passing attempts into passing yardage.
The cartoon on this page is Goode's first attempt to convert his mass of numbers into a form more suitable for television and newspapers. Next season United Press Features will syndicate the cartoon as a weekly series. A computer at CalComp, an Anaheim company that also does Goode's printouts, draws the cartoon, which was designed by Bernard Gruver, in 10 seconds by analyzing the numbers fed into it and comparing them to canned numbers in its memory. Each of the parts of the cartoon's anatomy—toes, feet, legs, arms, nose, eyes, etc.—represents a variable. For instance, if a team's yards per pass attempt is less than 5.0 the left arm points downward with a yo-yo football. Goode calls that a "yo-yo passing attack."
The drawing produces a gestalt effect—the viewer perceives the total, not just the parts. "It's a sort of Dow-Jones average for sports," says Dixon, "although the Dow-Jones is much simpler."
The problem with predicting the outcome of a single football game such as Sunday's Super Bowl is the effect of what statisticians call error variance—otherwise known as luck. A computer is better suited to explain what did happen than to predict what will. "Two quick mistakes like the Rams made in the playoffs in Dallas and it's good night nurse," says Goode. "It's tough to win a game if you give the opposition 14 points and start four minutes into the contest." But if Minnesota and Miami play true to their 1973 form, Don Shula's Dolphins will become the first team since Green Bay to win back-to-back Super Bowls and they will do so convincingly. Would you believe nine points?
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]