Sports Statistics & Analytics
By: Matthew Nason
The title of the major I am creating through the Interdisciplinary Studies department is Sports Statistics and Analytics. This major will integrate aspects from both the Mathematics and the Health and Human Performance departments, as well as some Business and Communications courses. The idea for this major came to me my Junior year of high school after keeping the books for our varsity baseball team. After each game, I would analyze each players’ statistics and record them throughout the season. I would then update the players and the coach before the next game, resulting in changes in the batting order and pitching matchups. Everybody I talked to about this idea told me there was no major or career in sports statistics and suggested other career paths involving math and stats. After coming to Plymouth State University as undeclared for my freshman year, I declared as an Early Childhood Education Major the next year with hopes of teaching math. After a year of taking Early Childhood Education classes, I came to the conclusion that teaching was not for me. With “Moneyball” coming out and Fantasy Sports (especially football) growing into the huge industry it is today, I realized that statistics in sports are being analyzed and interpreted more than ever before. After being informed by a friend about the Interdisciplinary Studies department and being able to create your own major, I knew this was what I wanted to pursue. Sports Statistics and Analytics is unlike any other major at Plymouth State in that it incorporates specific courses that teach and enhance the skills necessary to become a sports statistician, such as analyzing data, synthesizing sports statistics into new data, and excellent knowledge of the sport.
The following courses included in my contract are from the Mathematics department here at Plymouth State University. MA2300 Statistics I is an introduction to statistics and includes both descriptive and inferential statistics. This course will build a foundation of basic tec
hniques, formulas, and rules used in statistics, leaving room to expand in future classes. MG3300 Statistics II is a continuation of Statistics I. This course will expand upon topics taught in Statistics I in greater detail. MA1900 Statistical Literacy in Today’s Society teaches students how to interpret and evaluate reports on a variety of topics. The goal of this course is to understand statistics without using specific statistical techniques. MA2200 Finite Mathematics is using algebra to solve analytical problems. This course will teach me counting techniques, probability, and expected value, among other things, and was recommended by my advisor. MA3280 Regression Analysis is model building using multiple linear regression. This course includes the analysis of variance, and was strongly recommended by my advisor. MG4420 Numerical Analysis Using the Computer teaches students how to analyze statistics and create new data using the computer. Being able to use the computer to analyze data is an extremely important skill to have as a sports statistician.
In addition to courses within the Mathematics department, here are a few courses within the Department of Business. BU2240 Business Statistics was an introduction to statistics based on business applications. This course was taken online and discussed topics such as descriptive statistics, probability, sampling, analysis of variance, and regression analysis. BU3450 Sports Marketing is a course that utilizes small groups to organize and execute a profitable sporting event here at Plymouth State. I am currently in the Pre-Marketing group, and my role is the Data Analyst. My role is to analyze all of the data my group mates found while researching and condense it into only important and relevant information. BU2450 Principles of Marketing was an online course that analyzed well-known businesses and products to determine their marketing strategies. Although the class taught topics such as product innovation and pricing strategies, the ability to analyze companies and products to determine their marketing strategy relates directly to the abilities and skills of sports statisticians. EC3580 Managerial Statistics uses applications of statistics and economic theory to help in managerial planning and marketing. Probability and regression analysis are important aspects of the class, and business statistical software is used throughout.
The third major discipline involved in Sports Statistics and Analytics is the Health and Human Performance Department. BU3430 Sports Law is designed to provide knowledge and understanding of laws pertaining to sports. Although not relating to statistics, this course is important for anyone working for sport organizations, both professionally and collegiately. CC2200 Introduction to Sports Management is an introduction to all facets of sports management. This course talked about many roles in sports, including sports statisticians, and described their career opportunities, job responsibilities, and background and skills required. CC3780 Sport in Society examines the role of sports in society using critical thinking skills to analyze social issues in sports. This course uses critical thinking skills and analytical abilities throughout its duration, both of which are important skills for sports statisticians.
Finally, CM3800 Analyzing Television and CM3810 Analyzing Film use various approaches to analyzing both television and film from the 1950s to present day. Analyzing game film is an important part of sports, for both the players and organizations, because it allows players to see their mistakes and learn how to improve themselves.
My ultimate career goal is to work for a professional sports organization, preferably basketball or baseball, as a sports statistician. Each of these courses bring a necessary component that will set me up for my future better than any other major at Plymouth State University could. The integration of Mathematics, Health and Human Performance, and Business, as well as two Communications courses, definitely makes this major interdisciplinary.
Update as of 1/30/19
A lot has changed since I first created my Sports Statistics & Analytics major through the Interdisciplinary Studies Department. I have had to change a large portion of the courses listed above for a variety of reasons. For example, Statistics II and Regression Analysis were both courses that were no longer being taught at Plymouth State when I was planning to take them. Other courses such as Sports Law and Sport in Society were replaced by a few computer science courses, Computer Fundamentals and Intro to Programming, per recommendation from the Interdisciplinary Studies Department. The most helpful change that I made was creating an internship where I could get a hands-on experience with how the statistics are taken for a multitude of sports here at PSU. Some of my responsibilities involve calling hockey and football games for the person inputting the statistics, running box scores to both coaches, creating and updating gameday programs, being the public address announcer for swimming and diving, keeping track of substitutions in soccer, etc. I have taken 3 credits worth of hours towards my internship last semester, and I am continuing this internship into this semester for another 2 credits.
Even with all of the changes that have happened, I am still enjoying my major and I have learned a lot about statistics and analytics, both related and unrelated to sports.