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By David Wiederman
Old 
◦ Simple statistics – easily computable 
◦ Limited amount of stats 
◦ Stats only seen in newspapers 
◦ Information available even during sports broadcasts 
were limited 
New 
◦ Extremely complex statistics 
◦ The number of “advanced statistics” has exploded 
◦ The internet has made any stat available in seconds 
◦ Broadcasters have all of this information at their 
fingertips for any situation that comes up during a live 
event
Technological change – anything the average 
person wants to know is available online for 
free 
◦ Free databases 
◦ Most people with televisions can pay for services to 
watch every in whatever sport they choose 
◦ Growing popularity and access to fantasy sports 
◦ The increased visibility and spotlight due to 
technology has created a need for athletes values to 
need to be analyzed in new and exciting ways, and 
these new ways are now measurable due to the 
amount of data available
Defined as the search for objective 
knowledge in baseball, but has become well 
known as advanced statistics which go 
beyond basic statistics in order to measure 
true value of a player.i 
◦ An example would be adjusting a baseball player’s 
hitting statistics based on the dimensions of their 
home stadium (some stadiums are easier to hit in). 
◦ Largest open database is baseballreference.com
Made famous through “Moneyball” 
◦ Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, had enormous 
success using sabermetrics to build a winning team with 
a low payroll 
◦ Last 15 Years: .81 standard deviations below the average 
payroll (bottom 1/3), but a 54.8% win rate (top 3). 
◦ In 10 of the past 15 seasons, they have had 10+ more 
wins than would be expected based on payroll 
◦ The general concept for Beane is that batters take a lot 
of pitches (patient and selective), tend to walk a lot (get 
on base a lot even if they don’t have a great batting 
average), run the bases well, and play solid defense.ii
Technology used in Formula One racing to 
monitor physical well-being is being applied 
to performance across other sports.iii 
◦ Can measure speed, efficiency in movements, and 
fatigue – can help pinpoint how athletes are wasting 
energy (e.g. hockey players performance during a 
45 second shift). 
◦ Possible end result is “smart jerseys” – would allow 
for real time data to be relayed to coaches and 
would give fans even more access to information 
for analysis.
An API is a software intermediary that makes it 
possible for application programs to interact with 
each other and share data. 
There are several API’s for sports including ESPN, 
SportsData, and Yahoo. 
Creates an enormous database of comprehensive 
data coverage including all major sports and 
leagues all over the world. 
The public benefits through apps and online 
databases, which are both mostly open sources. 
◦ Real time reporting and analysis becoming the norm in 
API’s.
Data collected includes live play-by-play, 
scores/times, results/boxscores, standings, 
player stats, team stats, leaders, rosters, 
depth charts, profiles, transactions, splits 
(such as home vs away or day vs night), and 
historical stats. 
◦ ESPN includes podcasts, headlines, draft data, and 
feeds from sportscenter. 
Creates a meeting of geeks and sports freaks
ESPN – 3 tiersiv 
◦ Internal – ESPN employees and contractors using the API 
to build ESPN apps 
◦ Strategic Partners working with ESPN to include ESPN 
content in their products/services 
◦ Public – Independent, pre-approved developers using 
ESPN content. 
The coding is not open source such as Android 
or Mozilla, but the information generated gets 
distributed to the public 
◦ Push notifications from the SportsCenter mobile 
application with breaking news 
◦ Real time scores on espn.com and the SportsCenter 
application for almost any league in the world
SportsData 
◦ Major customers include Bleacher Report, 
Bloomberg Sports, Google, IBM, and NBC Sports. 
◦ These customers use SportsData in broadcasts, 
media, fantasy sports scouting, and in the case of 
Google, accurate and dependable data for Google’s 
vast customer base and search demands.v 
◦ The cost to these companies can be tens of 
thousands of dollars per month, but the benefits 
can easily outweigh the costs. 
Instrumental in NBC’s online coverage of the Super 
Bowl.
Really only available to insiders, developers, 
strategic partners, and wealthy corporations 
with media & data needs. 
The benefits, however, are also received by 
the general public in information availability 
and in media. 
Not truly “open” in that the full use is not 
public and is not free, but
Citizen Journalism 
◦ The availability of statistics and information has 
translated into the average person tweeting, 
blogging, and facebooking about sports. 
◦ Many individuals with full time jobs can even get 
part-time gigs writing for larger blogs. 
◦ People with knowledge of advanced statistics are in 
need because they provide interesting viewpoints 
on teams and players which can often captivate 
readers and bring the measures into the main 
public eye.
Data and Databases 
◦ Massive amounts of information available. Any person 
can now see, for example, how possession stats and 
attempted shots correlate to wins and player efficiency 
in hockey. 
Information Overload and Filters 
◦ Is it too much? For example, most people will not know 
the majority of the stats on baseball reference unless 
they take the time to read and comprehend the 
breakdown of the calculation 
◦ Important to be able to filter the information so that we 
get find what we are seeking 
Most of the time a question is simple, such as is a player 
getting unlucky or is he/she simply performing poorly 
How to manage your time to find this answer is important, or 
else it can take a long time.
Equity – The benefits are only able to be 
gained if there is internet access and a mobile 
network. 
◦ Similar to most other open knowledge sources in 
that the access is dependent on how privileged the 
individual is.
i http://sabr.org/sabermetrics 
ii http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/billion-dollar- 
billy-beane/ 
iii 
http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/ 
2011/11/sports-technology 
iv http://developer.espn.com/overview 
v http://www.sportsdatallc.com/

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Technology and open knowledge in sports statistics

  • 2. Old ◦ Simple statistics – easily computable ◦ Limited amount of stats ◦ Stats only seen in newspapers ◦ Information available even during sports broadcasts were limited New ◦ Extremely complex statistics ◦ The number of “advanced statistics” has exploded ◦ The internet has made any stat available in seconds ◦ Broadcasters have all of this information at their fingertips for any situation that comes up during a live event
  • 3. Technological change – anything the average person wants to know is available online for free ◦ Free databases ◦ Most people with televisions can pay for services to watch every in whatever sport they choose ◦ Growing popularity and access to fantasy sports ◦ The increased visibility and spotlight due to technology has created a need for athletes values to need to be analyzed in new and exciting ways, and these new ways are now measurable due to the amount of data available
  • 4. Defined as the search for objective knowledge in baseball, but has become well known as advanced statistics which go beyond basic statistics in order to measure true value of a player.i ◦ An example would be adjusting a baseball player’s hitting statistics based on the dimensions of their home stadium (some stadiums are easier to hit in). ◦ Largest open database is baseballreference.com
  • 5. Made famous through “Moneyball” ◦ Billy Beane, GM of the Oakland Athletics, had enormous success using sabermetrics to build a winning team with a low payroll ◦ Last 15 Years: .81 standard deviations below the average payroll (bottom 1/3), but a 54.8% win rate (top 3). ◦ In 10 of the past 15 seasons, they have had 10+ more wins than would be expected based on payroll ◦ The general concept for Beane is that batters take a lot of pitches (patient and selective), tend to walk a lot (get on base a lot even if they don’t have a great batting average), run the bases well, and play solid defense.ii
  • 6. Technology used in Formula One racing to monitor physical well-being is being applied to performance across other sports.iii ◦ Can measure speed, efficiency in movements, and fatigue – can help pinpoint how athletes are wasting energy (e.g. hockey players performance during a 45 second shift). ◦ Possible end result is “smart jerseys” – would allow for real time data to be relayed to coaches and would give fans even more access to information for analysis.
  • 7. An API is a software intermediary that makes it possible for application programs to interact with each other and share data. There are several API’s for sports including ESPN, SportsData, and Yahoo. Creates an enormous database of comprehensive data coverage including all major sports and leagues all over the world. The public benefits through apps and online databases, which are both mostly open sources. ◦ Real time reporting and analysis becoming the norm in API’s.
  • 8. Data collected includes live play-by-play, scores/times, results/boxscores, standings, player stats, team stats, leaders, rosters, depth charts, profiles, transactions, splits (such as home vs away or day vs night), and historical stats. ◦ ESPN includes podcasts, headlines, draft data, and feeds from sportscenter. Creates a meeting of geeks and sports freaks
  • 9. ESPN – 3 tiersiv ◦ Internal – ESPN employees and contractors using the API to build ESPN apps ◦ Strategic Partners working with ESPN to include ESPN content in their products/services ◦ Public – Independent, pre-approved developers using ESPN content. The coding is not open source such as Android or Mozilla, but the information generated gets distributed to the public ◦ Push notifications from the SportsCenter mobile application with breaking news ◦ Real time scores on espn.com and the SportsCenter application for almost any league in the world
  • 10. SportsData ◦ Major customers include Bleacher Report, Bloomberg Sports, Google, IBM, and NBC Sports. ◦ These customers use SportsData in broadcasts, media, fantasy sports scouting, and in the case of Google, accurate and dependable data for Google’s vast customer base and search demands.v ◦ The cost to these companies can be tens of thousands of dollars per month, but the benefits can easily outweigh the costs. Instrumental in NBC’s online coverage of the Super Bowl.
  • 11. Really only available to insiders, developers, strategic partners, and wealthy corporations with media & data needs. The benefits, however, are also received by the general public in information availability and in media. Not truly “open” in that the full use is not public and is not free, but
  • 12. Citizen Journalism ◦ The availability of statistics and information has translated into the average person tweeting, blogging, and facebooking about sports. ◦ Many individuals with full time jobs can even get part-time gigs writing for larger blogs. ◦ People with knowledge of advanced statistics are in need because they provide interesting viewpoints on teams and players which can often captivate readers and bring the measures into the main public eye.
  • 13. Data and Databases ◦ Massive amounts of information available. Any person can now see, for example, how possession stats and attempted shots correlate to wins and player efficiency in hockey. Information Overload and Filters ◦ Is it too much? For example, most people will not know the majority of the stats on baseball reference unless they take the time to read and comprehend the breakdown of the calculation ◦ Important to be able to filter the information so that we get find what we are seeking Most of the time a question is simple, such as is a player getting unlucky or is he/she simply performing poorly How to manage your time to find this answer is important, or else it can take a long time.
  • 14. Equity – The benefits are only able to be gained if there is internet access and a mobile network. ◦ Similar to most other open knowledge sources in that the access is dependent on how privileged the individual is.
  • 15. i http://sabr.org/sabermetrics ii http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/billion-dollar- billy-beane/ iii http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/ 2011/11/sports-technology iv http://developer.espn.com/overview v http://www.sportsdatallc.com/