Modern Technology and Breaking Down Sports

by

By: Rachel Buck
Sports Information Assistant

I am sometimes amazed by technology and how it is shaping society, changing the way that we, especially as sports fans, gather information.

Growing up, we didn’t have satellite television at our house until I was almost in high school (go ahead and insert the typical ‘Southern Canadian’ joke here) and high-speed Internet finally arrived three years ago…and our house is only two miles outside the city limits. Instead, we had to rely on local television (which only helped if you were a Packers or Badgers fan, because no other teams really mattered to them), the local newspaper and radio broadcasts to get our sports fix. Sunday mornings, when by no comparison the best sports section of the week arrived, there was always a struggle between me and my dad for whom would get to read the sports page first when we got home from church.

Compare that to today where fans can access information about their favorite teams from almost anywhere, anytime. The advent of the Internet and portable electronics has opened a new world: No matter where you may be your beloved team is never more than a few clicks away.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am entirely guilty of [sometimes] overusing such tools. Nights that Marquette basketball happens to be on national television and the Minnesota Wild are on at the same time I will have hoops on the television and hockey on my laptop. You can often find me watching MU or Brewers games that aren’t televised on my computer, and returning home after women’s basketball games more often than not I have my headphones plugged into my BlackBerry, listening to the Wild radio feed. I follow all my favorite teams on Twitter, finding it a great tool to know what is going on in the game (and off the court) when I can’t watch. Some people may look at that as information overload, but I look at is as a way to stay connected. In any case, it definitely helps aid any separation anxiety suffered by being thousands of miles away from my teams.

The Internet has also created a world where the biggest fans with copious amounts of spare time can chart, dissect and create useless stats and gossip that often times serve as nothing more than interesting bar talk…or a paranoia point for overzealous fantasy team owners and prognosticators who love to talk about their favorite team but have no say in personnel decisions on and off the field. Like this one, where a Marquette alumnus broke down the team’s records in the Dwayne Wade Converse uniform design, which was introduced during the 2007-08 season (I have always said those terrible powder blue uni’s were a pretty good indicator of a loss-hopefully they’re not wearing them Sunday at Georgetown). http://www.gomarquette.com/blog/2011/01/marquette-jersey-records-2007-08-to-present.html

One of my favorite statistical reference sites is baseball-reference.com. Being a huge baseball fan (my second-favorite sport after hockey), this site is dedicated to the total baseball nerd that I tend to be. Team stats, player stats, and awards…everything you need to know about the sport can be found on the site.

Amongst all of the serious black-and-white numbers, I have found one funny thing that connects B-R to the largest social networking tool currently available, Facebook. Fans are able to “like” their favorite teams by season and let me tell you, some of these teams I question who hit the “like” button. Like my personal favorite, the 1995 Milwaukee Brewers. I mean seriously, who are the two people that thought this team was great? Well, unless you had your first baseball crush on Mike Matheny like I did, but even then the uniforms were terrible and the product on the field was worse, leaving no justification to like this team.

I’m sure there are a million different sites dissecting every sport out there, here are some of my personal favorites:

My absolute favorite hockey site is Puck Daddy. Combining sport gossip with random stories and actual player coverage, it has a little bit of everything. I had the privilege of meeting founder Greg Wyshynski when I worked for the Capitals (he is based out of DC) and even had the opportunity to write a few guest entries. Many organizations struggle with whether or not to credential bloggers, but Wysh was one of the first personalities to show that (some) bloggers deserve to be credentialed for the work that they produce in turn.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy

While www.hockeydb.com is where you can go to find statistics and track the journey of players both in the major and minor leagues (and even some collegiate players). The site does offer some fun lists that could bolster any hockey trivia night, including one-game wonders, playoff-only players and the pack your bag club, which highlights the career journeyman.

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/players/onegamewonder.html

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/players/playoffonly.html

http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/players/pack_your_bag.html

Ever wonder how the birthplace of major league players reflects great social movements in our country? Or how the Baseball Hall of Fame Votes trend? Why your favorite pitcher struggles when pitching at different altitudes? This site is crazy-busy breaking down some significant, and not so significant, factors in one of the most number-driven and superstitious sports.

http://baseballanalysts.com/

This site doesn’t necessarily do anything with statistics, but the fact that this guy collected almost every logo from every sport globally amazes me. Plus it’s always fun to go back and see the progression of a team’s uniforms over the years.  http://www.sportslogos.net/team.php?id=64

I can’t take credit for this one. I was chatting with (W&L play-by-play announcer) Jeremy Franklin on the way home from the women’s basketball game on Saturday at Bridgewater when we started talking about referees. He told me there was a site that broke down referees and their tendencies, year-by-year. Little did I believe it at first, but alas, here it is.

http://statsheet.com/mcb/referees

So there you have it, probably just one-one thousandth of the sites that are out there breaking down teams and mindless stats. Which leaves me wondering…just who are these people that have produced such information? Obviously a lot of research and time had to be poured into compiling the information for 10 seconds worth of fame. Is it just a love of the game? A yearning for a deeper understanding? On an anti-social person sitting in their dark basement at home, lurking away from daylight to slave away at the artificial glow of the computer screen?

And on a personal level, even if I did have copious amounts of spare time, what would I research to make into a useless statistical graphic? The length of an NHL mullet and its correlation to PIM’s? Whether or not players who grow mustaches during November see an increase in their productivity?

Whatever the drive is, I’ll give them a little credit, and I’m sure the weekly trivia master at the local pub also thanks them.

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