There are many sports cliches that drive me crazy, but the ones that involve bad math are the worst. The Numbers Guy wrote about the cliche of giving 110%, one of my biggest pet peeves. And apparently, giving 110% is no longer enough.
Sports are watched by many statistics enthusiasts, who make being a fan more fun. However, the networks and analysts rarely get the numbers right. My husband, who knows absolutely nothing about football, was quick to point out that the hang time clock for football punts doesn’t convey useful information (there are rare exceptions). He was not alone. Eric Huggins gave a talk called “Punter Efficiency Rating” at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Seattle to measure a punter’s performance (it doesn’t use hang time).
Bad math in sports is endless. Scoring 55 points in basketball is called a “double nickel.”
My biggest football pet peeve is when football commentators measure yards gained in dollars (e.g., “He ran for a buck fifty three” instead of “He ran for 153 yards”). It’s like nails on a chalkboard every time I hear it.
For more on OR and sports,
- read the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports (JQAS),
- get on the mailing list for SpORts, a section of INFORMS,
- attend nifty conferences like the New England Symposium on Statistics in Sports and the Symposium on Statistics and Operations Research in Baseball.