If you’re interested in diving into the statistical side of sports coverage, look no further than FiveThirtyEight, which offers compelling analysis that’s clearly articulated.
You can find top-notch analysis at FanGraphs, Beyond the Boxscore, and FootballOutsiders.com. You can also regularly find fantastic coverage related to advanced metrics on a Wall Street Journal website that, unfortunately, is fairly expensive for those who seek only sports news. There’s also stories based on advanced metrics in Yahoo!, ESPN, and SB Nation, among others. But all pale compared to FiveThirtyEight.
Bernie Miklasz, who covered the St. Louis Cardinals for 26 years, relies on advanced metrics to illustrate that the team’s manager, Mike Matheny, has incorrectly blamed younger players for problems in 2017.
Research into athletics spending has never been easier for college sports media thanks to both the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the USA Today athletics/coaches’ salary databases. These resources enable college sports journalists to compare finances in order to develop numerous comparisons. This morning, for example, I played with financial data related to both our school (Eastern Illinois University) and our conference (Ohio Valley) that has yielded information for at least a few stories worth investigating.
Here is a sampling of data about EIU’s spending based upon 2012 finances from the Knight Commission database: EIU ranks ninth among 10 OVC schools in total athletic spending at $29,159 per FTE. [Data for Belmont and SIU-E were unavailable.] Southeast Missouri spent $259 less overall per FTE than EIU does. EIU spent $12,550 more on athletics (FTE) than on academics. In this category, EIU ranks at the bottom. Murray State, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State, meanwhile, each spent more than $30,000 more per FTE on athletics than on academics.
No matter what you think of “DeflateGate,” you’ll have to admit the analytical research by Warren Sharp raises significant questions about the Patriots’ ability to legally hold onto the football. In fact, Sharp’s research has been the most significant information to emerge from the claim that New England illegally deflated its footballs during the AFC championship. As Sharp writes about his research: “The beauty of data is the results speak for themselves.” That’s a significant point. In an era where media access is limited by teams and where athletes can talk directly to fans through social media, data analysis offers sports journalists another way to reveal new perspectives about games, teams and athletes. Analyzing stats can yield far better insights than interviews with unresponsive and antagonistic athletes.