Statistical Thinking in Sports

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Since the first athletic events found a fan base, sports and statistics have always maintained a tight and at times mythical relationship. As a way to relay the telling of a game's drama and attest to the prodigious powers of the heroes involved, those reporting on the games tallied up the numbers that they believe best described the action and best defined the winning edge. However, they may not have always counted the right numbers.
Many of our hallowed beliefs about sports statistics have long been fraught with misnomers. Whether it concerns Scottish football or American baseball, the most revered statistics often have little to do with any winning edge.

Covering an international collection of sports, Statistical Thinking in Sports provides an accessible survey of current research in statistics and sports, written by experts from a variety of arenas. Rather than rely on casual observation, they apply the rigorous tools of statistics to re-examine many of those concepts that have gone from belief to fact, based mostly on the repetition of their claims. Leaving assumption behind,
these researchers take on a host of tough questions-

  • Is a tennis player only as good as his or her first serve?
  • Is there such a thing as home field advantage?
  • Do concerns over a decline in soccer's competitive balance have any merit?
  • What of momentum-is its staying power any greater than yesterday's win?
  • And what of pressure performers? Are there such creatures or ultimately, does every performer fall back to his or her established normative?

Investigating a wide range of international team and individual sports, the book considers the ability to make predictions, define trends, and measure any number of influences. It is full of interesting and useful examples for those teaching introductory statistics. Although the articles are aimed at general readers, the serious researcher in sports statistics will also find the articles of value and highly useful as starting points for further research.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
… For those with an interest in sports and statistics, this book is an interesting and sometimes enlightening read. As a baseball fan, I particularly enjoyed the related chapters on clutch hitting, in-game momentum, and batter–pitcher matchups. I would recommend this text to any statistician contemplating related future research. Toward this end, additional information, data, and appendixes for some chapters are available on the book’s website.
Technometrics, February 2009, Vol. 51, No. 1

A serious effort by thoughtful statisticians in the area of sports not only contributes to the general area, but also offers a window to the world on the work of the professional statistician. As a more general audience becomes aware of the work of the statistician, it can only serve to bolster the reputation of our profession in general. … All in all, I found the volume to be very enjoyable. I would recommend it to anyone looking for an introduction to one of the subjects covered, as the introductions and bibliographies are generally quite good. … this volume has something for everyone.
—Gilbert W. Fellingham, Brigham Young University, The American Statistician, November 2008

…an international collection of current research in statistics and sports…is full of interesting and useful examples to use when teaching statistics.
—Susan Starkings, London South Bank University, International Statistical Review, 2008

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584888680
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/3/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 298
  • Sales rank: 598,817
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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