My Interdisciplinary Studies major is titled “Sports Statistics & Analytics” and was designed to prepare me for a career working in an analytics department for a professional sports franchise. It includes a combination of courses from disciplines such as Mathematics, Sports Management, and Computer Science. These courses gave me a solid foundation in the world of analytics, which is something I plan to build on as I begin my career.
My Applied Project (AP) was more of a proof of concept, as I took all available statistics relating to the Plymouth State men’s basketball team for the 2018-19 season, as well as statistics from the Little East Conference website, to calculate Player Efficiency Ratings for each player, a statistic that is not calculated or recorded here at PSU. My decision-making process when brainstorming my Applied Project was to make sure it didn’t have anything to do with my internship, and then to make sure that I had enough raw data to carry out my idea. Originally, I planned on finding the advanced statistics for Plymouth State as a team, such as Effective Field Goal Percentage, True Shooting Percentage, and Usage Rate, as they were not shown on the Plymouth State Athletics website under statistics. However, after talking with Chris Kilmer, the Director of Athletic Communications and my internship advisor, I found that those advanced statistics are already calculated through our statistics software, so I was forced to come up with a new Applied Project idea. This led to me deciding on calculating individual Player Efficiency Ratings, as it was a statistic that wasn’t already being recorded and something I had enough data to calculate myself. This project significantly contributed to my education, as it forced me to use knowledge that I had acquired from all of my disciplines. First, I learned how to input, analyze, and calculate statistics using our statistics software here at Plymouth State for a variety of different sports, such as basketball, soccer, ice hockey, swimming and diving, etc. during my internship, which would be classified under the Sports Management discipline. Second, I learned how to research Player Efficiency Rating definitions and formulas, as well as how to turn raw data into useful information through Excel, from the knowledge I gained in my Computer Science courses. Finally, I calculated each players’ individual Player Efficiency Ratings by hand using the formula on Basketball-Reference.com using my knowledge from my Mathematics and Statistics courses.
My Research Article (RA) was on how the rise of sports analytics, specifically Player Tracking in the NBA, has changed the way the game is played. This was a subject I was genuinely interested in, as I am a huge fan of the NBA and basketball in general, and I have noticed that the game has continued to move further away from the basket with the new emphasis on the three point shot. As a 6’8″ lifelong center, I have seen firsthand how the game has evolved from post-ups and drives to the basket to pull-up threes and pick-and-pops. I remember going from my Freshman year in High School, where I would work almost exclusively on post moves, defense, and big man footwork, to my Senior year in High School, where I would work on some post moves mixed with jumpers, three point shooting, dribbling, and switching onto guards on the perimeter on defense. In my experience, the game had changed almost immediately, and I wanted to see if the statistics throughout the NBA backed up what I saw. This also significantly contributed to my education, as I learned a lot about Player Tracking technology and how teams use their almost unlimited supply of information to help give their team the best chance to win. I want to be one of the guys that interprets that type of information, so I think this Research Article introduced me to some of the responsibilities I may have regarding my career choice in the future.
My Research Article, Applied Project, and contract courses have all helped prepare me for the career path I am on. On top of how my Research Article and my Applied Project have contributed and impacted my education, my contract courses have all given me interesting and useful knowledge. Analyzing Television and Analyzing Movies have taught me how to go in depth when looking at information, and since Sports Statisticians/Analysts have to know how to break down and interpret game film, I feel these courses have been valuable towards impacting my education. I have learned how to create algorithms and codes using Python in my Computer Fundamentals and Intro to Programming courses. I have used a variety of softwares, such as R, Python, Java, Excel, Minitab, and SPSS, in Business Computer Applications, Managerial Statistics, Business Statistics, Social Statistics, and Intro to Programming. Being able to read and understand data in a lot of different softwares will help me stand out when I begin looking for a job. Courses such as Finite Mathematics, Statistics 1, Statistical Literacy in Today’s Society, and Social Statistics have all taught me how to find the data I am looking for using formulas, calculations, algorithms, distributions, regressions, correlations, frequencies, etc. All of my contract courses have taught me how to take the information I have found and present it clearly so everybody will understand what my information means and how I found it. Of course, my internship has had the largest impact on my education and my future, as it allowed me to experience firsthand how statistics are tracked, inputted, and analyzed for a variety of sports, with each sport being slightly different. I have done everything from recording substitutions in soccer to calling out what’s happening during ice hockey, football, and basketball games to being the public address announcer for swimming and diving. I have also created programs for multiple sports, learned how to input live statistics during sports games, and made copies for archived statistics. This semester, I have been going through all the archived information for each sport, starting with women’s ice hockey, scanning and describing them, and then uploading everything online so they are searchable on the Plymouth State website. I think all of this, on top of the research I have done in this course, has really helped prepare me for a career in Sports Statistics and Analytics.