Tag Archives: sports

Stats v. Story

Love this.

John Gruber with Ben Thompson on The Talk Show:

JG: I have a good friend, Matt, who’s a fellow Yankee’s fan. His theory is that there’s two types of sports fans: Stats fans and story fans. Now, anytime you try to say there’s only two types of people, of course there’s a grey zone. Some stats guys are a little bit into the story side and some story guys are still interested in some of the stats. I’m a story guy though, in his telling. I just don’t get into the numbers that much. I believe in clutch hitting. I believe in clutch performance. I know that’s one of the stat’s guys’ things, like the baseball prospectus guys (Bill James, etc.), that there’s a theory they try to backup that there’s no such thing as clutch hitting.

You say there’s no such thing as clutch hitting, and I say Derek Jeter. I don’t see how you could deny it.

The whole Jeter “Farewell” thing is just chock-full of all sorts of statistics and stuff like that. But one of the most amazing ones is (and this is off the top of my head, I’m not going to look it up), he’s played 158 post-season games. A regular baseball season is 162 games and most guys would be lucky to play 158. Even players who aren’t insured take a game off here and there. So he’s played easily the equivalent of a full regular season, all post-season. Which by definition is only against the very best pitchers and opposing teams. Every post-season game is against a team who was good enough to make it to the post-season. And he’s got like a .320 career post-season batting average. Enough that it would win the batting title most years. And that’s in the post-season.

BT: That’s really impressive because batting averages drop significantly in the post-season.

JG: Right. Because the pitching is so much better. So much better. Really, that’s the way to win post-season baseball games, is to have amazing pitching.

Remember the White Sox, when they won in 2006? Whatever year it was. Whatever year the Chicago White Sox won a decade ago, they won the World Series in four games. Their four pitchers pitched four complete games. It was unbelievable. They had four pitchers who caught fire, were just unhittable, and they just went “one, two, three, four. The World Series is over.”

BT: It’s like having a hot goalie in hockey or something. You can just shutout everything else.

JG: And tech is exactly the same. There’s story guys and stats guys.

Reading it back, I am reminded of Jon Hamm’s brilliant opening monologue to the 2013 ESPYs.

I am also reminded why I remain focused on the games industry. I have been fortunate enough to grow along side a budding industry from its toddlerhood (1985) to the behemoth it has become. The video game industry has yet to shake it’s growing pains but its effect on pop-culture at large has been breathtaking to watch. (While writing this, Pharrell released the video game inspired music video for “It Girl”, (and it may be a good indication of what is wrong with the culture).)

Over the course of the next-gen launch, the focus has been on story. None more so than Nintendo. Focus all you want on stats, Nintendo’s story is still one to believe in.

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The Gimmick Girl

Jack Moore on Mo’Ne Davis and Emma March:

The narrative of the gimmick girl in sports is doubly damaging. Not only does it foster a lower expectation of women’s abilities — in both genders — it also creates an assumption that women aren’t earning their spots when in reality they are almost certainly facing even higher standards than the men they compete against.If the sports world is truly going to house gender equality, we need to give girls the freedom to choose their sports. We need to stop pressuring them to take the path of least gender resistance. And we need to stop holding them to a higher standard when everything else is already working against them.

Great read on gender equality in sports. Bring me right back to the Finnish Hearthstone Tournament and gender segregation in chess. A very interesting conversation.

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Polygon pits Dota 2 champ payout against professional sports

A very interesting read on how professional and eSports players are paid out after winning championship titles.
Owen S. Good, Polygon:

So. Next time someone asks you if eSports are a real sport, you can show ’em the receipt.

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‘How chess shows that gender segregation in eSports might encourage more female leagues’

An interesting piece over at Polygon.

Emily Gera, Polygon:

Chess historically has featured gender-segregated tournaments; This has nothing to do with differences in skill levels between the genders, however, MindSports International development manager and chess coach Eduardo Sajgalik tells us. Rather it’s the best method of helping smaller demographics grow.

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Madden NFL 15 Aims to Teach Football

Samit Sarkar, Polygon:

I went through a few Skills Trainer exercises during an EA press event in New York yesterday, with Doeberling explaining the setup. We started out with the Cover 2, a key scheme for defending the pass. I thought Courtney’s voice-over, augmented by on-screen visuals, did a terrific job of explaining how to identify the Cover 2 on the field: two deep safeties, with cornerbacks giving your wide receivers five yards of space.

The game then displays the gaps in the Cover 2 — the areas on the field in which you’ll be more likely to find open receivers — and finally, tells you the offensive plays that are best suited to exploiting those spots (Flood, Smash and Verticals). After the tutorial, Skills Trainer moves into drills, and awards medals based on how often you succeed.

Later…

Skills Trainer is now part of the onboarding process for Madden 15; the first time you boot up the game, it’ll encourage you to check out the mode. This is a step in the right direction. It’s not enough to include these tutorials in sports games, because hardcore players will ignore them and newcomers may not be able to find them. And unlike the start of an action title or shooter, it’s tough to make a tutorial out of a default exhibition game in a sports title. What’s even more encouraging is that with Madden 15’s Skills Trainer and Gauntlet, Tiburon may have found a way to make studying fun.

I haven’t played a sports game since NHL 10(?), but I can attest that I’d love to see more effective sports education built in. I have always wanted to join the greater sports conversation but have never found a way to engage with it. My best attempt was stat tracking my brother as he played World Series Baseball for the Sega Genesis; though, I chalked it up as an excuse to play with my dad’s new laptop…

I have a suspicious inkling that this doubles as an attempt to increase viewer and passerby engagement in NFL games. Either way, it’s a nice piggyback on yesterday’s post about alternative (e)sports commentary. File under edTech?

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Dota 2: Newcomer’s Broadcasts at TI4

Vlad Savov, The Verge:

Valve is trying to tear down this barrier of entry to what is already its most popular game ever with the introduction of a new round of Newcomer’s Broadcasts at TI4. These video streams offer alternative commentary on the tournament’s matches, where the game’s jargon is either filtered out or explained so as to improve the spectating experience for the uninitiated. Alas, though the goal is noble, the execution has so far been uneven. The commentators come from the same roster that does the regular game broadcasts and they struggle between being overly simplistic — “the green bars above their heads” represent each hero’s health and LAN means Local Area Network — and utterly impenetrable with discussions of “ganking,” “popping the Aegis,” and being “blown up by the Dagon.”

I have yet to plunge myself into the MOBA craze but this seems like a novel idea, and not just for eSports.
While watching a recent San Francisco Giants game, I joked with friends about substitute commentators that continually get sidetracked. What I didn’t suggest (but began pondering) was the inclusion of commentating for the novice viewer, breaking down different stats and rules. It would certainly be interesting to see commentary track choices rated by depth not only built into eSports broadcasts but services such as MLB.tv and NFL Network too.

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Looking Back on the League of Legends Championship Series Grand Finals

Looking Back on the League of Legends Championship Series Grand Finals
IGN

Is this a pitch for ESPNerd?

When I eventually forced myself to stop taking pictures of epic cosplayers and merch, I found my way to my seat and marveled at the 13,000 people filing in to watch one best of five series of League of Legends.

– Leah Jackson, IGN

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