Content Writing

Men Debating Sports: Remember, Stats are Not Created Equal

February 24, 2018

basketball-game-competition-sport-39593Sports bring people together… no argument there. Debating about sports however, in my opinion, is a male-dominated pastime. No matter how one’s point is proven it relies heavily on data.

Understand that I’m not saying women don’t like sports. However, watching sports and the discussions that proceed,  for male spectators, have a different value. This theory has been backed by scientific study. But cutting to the point – I think men who enjoy talking about sports, also wish they could compete among the athletes they so admire.

So this 120 second recap is for you.

Scrolling through your feed, you’re most likely coming across an overwhelming amount of player data. Data that you’ll use later in hot discussions of who outranks who in assists,  effective field goals, and rebounds. ESPN, among other major news sports outlets, capitalize on this pastime, turning raw data into statistical findings.

It’s important to understand though, there are different types of statistics, descriptive and inferential, and different methods of statistics. For example, ESPN owned forecasting site FiveThirtyEight has a system that projects an NBA player’s future performance called CARMELO. As explained in What’s New In Our NBA Player Projections For 2017-18, the system uses a mix of 1/3 Box Plus/Minus (BPM) and 2/3 Real Plus/Minus (RPM) metrics, just two of many out there. BPM, developed by Daniel Myers is a box score-based metric good at measuring a team’s offensive abilities, but it is limited in its ability to capture defensive performance. RPM is a fairly new predictive metric developed by Jeremias Engelmann, “…[that] isolates the unique plus-minus impact of each NBA player by adjusting for the effects of each teammate and opposing player” (The next big thing: real plus-minus, Steve Ilardi, ESPN). RPM aims to account for a major limitation, that a player will rank favorably when a player’s teammate is highly skilled. See how methodology is important? Now, these are only two metrics used in one projection system of many.

So with this short example, I’d like to remind you that stats are not created equal. The projections you receive on your news feeds are made up of varying metrics and used by authors to favor one’s opinions.

So keep debating, but debate smart.





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