What are sports analytics really about?

This week I’ll be speaking at the 10th annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference along with dozens of professionals from baseball, ice hockey, basketball, and more. It’s a chance to reflect on what this industry is for and also why it has been so controversial. Let me start with the sport where, at least in the public eye, it all began. I’ve been a baseball fan for most of my life. During this time, the sport entered the “moneyball” era, with increasingly complicated statistical methods being used to evaluate players and tactics. And for the most part, I didn’t notice. That doesn’t…
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When is it time for the manager to go?

After yesterday’s loss to FC Midtjylland, Louis van Gaal is again under pressure at Manchester United. Earlier this season, I wrote that he was doing fairly well given the players at his disposal, and he certainly didn’t have his first-choice team in Denmark. But after some embarrassing losses, it’s natural that fans – and maybe even executives at the club – are calling for the sack. In truth, it’s far from an easy decision. The market for managers is full of informational asymmetries. In plain English, clubs can’t always tell how skilled a manager is or how good the match…
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What would happen if ticket prices fell?

Liverpool Football Club is in the midst of a backlash among fans against planned increases in ticket prices. As an economist, I’ve seen similar arguments in other markets. I’d like to offer a bit of insight into what might happen if ticket prices fell rather than rose. Right now, clubs in the Premier League have no trouble selling most of their tickets. If ticket prices were to fall, then everyone who currently buys a ticket would probably still want one. In addition, some people who currently don’t choose to purchase tickets might decide to buy. So the demand for tickets…
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