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Jared, I commend you and the HWP staffers for committing to this effort at evangelization...with a few caveats. It would seem that Adv.St. is an inescapable force in the present state of affairs in sports management, and therefor also in sports media. Proof in the NBA: the unanimous agreement on this 5-on-5 :http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/page/5-on-5-120302-Sloan/nba-basketball-analytics-debate.

 

I know everyone is all pumped up after coming back from the Sloan conference at MIT. I'm glad that you can be energized by new discoveries; it really is fantastic to see genuine enthusiasm about the sport. However, I'm inclined to believe that there is an element of sports that should be balanced with the new statistical approach to talking about the game (any professional game tbh). It's the same thing which is overlooked time and again when human achievement is reduced to a numbers game: the human heart (and by extension, the satisfaction derived by spectators who identify because of the very humanity present in each player). 

 

In ESPN's fantastic documentary about "The Tom Brady 6" Steve Mariucci goes on record about the flaws of scouting (which is fairly similar in substance to  when we're discussing players and their performances/potential on platforms like DDL) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2YYrGrYynw&feature=related

 

At the end of the day, if sports are on my mind (late Grizzlies/Warriors game for example) I'm going to bed thinking about big plays, not stat lines (unless I'm playing fantasy sports...which I've been out of for a while). There's just too much momentum, not to mention history, that underpins the sporting experience (like how basic stats have been used for such things as...baseball cards, or say, the induction to any one of the many Halls of Fame) for me to believe that the common fan will flock to these new numbers. Rather, it is the uncommon fan, the sportswriter, and the management that will put these tools to use. As with anything, "layman's terms" will always be the benchmark by which the common man will come to understand the happenings in his world. From articles about future science, to present politics, to sports and beyond, the most easily used terms will always be in the lexicon of those that wish to speak meaningfully - though it may only be meaningful surface-scratching - about something into which they're not personally or professionally invested.

 

Another point: Stats in general is the observation of trends, yeah? This speaks of numbers which cannot be obtained apart from a series of datum. So while it may be useful to understand players in terms of their careers, and their seasons, it doesn't quite resonate with the water-cooler employee relating how so-and-so performed last night. So beyond simply stating "momentum limits the meaningfulness of stats," one may also say, "the nature of advanced stats (at least as I understand them) is incongruent with way in which common folk (usually) relate to their sports." Clearly that statement has limited usefulness in light of the advent of live-blogging, twitter, and yes, DDL (or it's variant for other sports).

 

So I'm not saying it's impossible for these new ways of measuring sports performance to make it into the layman's lexicon, I just believe that the ones that do will be through a more gradual occurrence. The primary concern for common dudes like myself is that there is prestige associated with innovation, and for those intellectuals seeking to make a name for themselves, it may be attractive to find some NEW method of measurement. So at some point - though there is no single authoritative vehicle to broadcast it - the question must be asked, "Where does it stop?" And thus even stats could become a game of trends. I.E. today we're on the PER trend, but tomorrow it could be the AAA (average angle of ascent) approach to NBA performance. 

 

I'll wrap this up. For a long time we've been using the same numbers in the 4 big sports, so perhaps this revolution is overdue (we can thank our forefathers for at least being interested in leaving a legacy, and therefor, by necessity also interested in recording statistical performances). Moneyball, in my mind, has done a great job of elevating the profile of this new wave of pro athlete measurements. It's future is very bright. But a simple look at the history of Philosophy provides insight into the probable outcome of this revolution: confusion and, eventually, a return to basics.  What is basic to the sports-fans' love of a game?

2 years, 9 months ago on Understanding Advanced Stats: Amar'e Stoudemire's Declining FG%

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