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Archive of posts filed under the Sports category.

Hey—guess what? There really is a hot hand!

No, it’s not April 1, and yup, I’m serious. Josh Miller came into my office yesterday and convinced me that the hot hand is real. Here’s the background. Last year we posted a discussion on streakiness in basketball shooting. Miller has a new paper out, with Adam Sanjurjo, which begins: We find a subtle but […]

“Menstrual Cycle Phase Does Not Predict Political Conservatism”

Someone pointed me to this article by Isabel Scott and Nicholas Pound: Recent authors have reported a relationship between women’s fertility status, as indexed by menstrual cycle phase, and conservatism in moral, social and political values. We conducted a survey to test for the existence of a relationship between menstrual cycle day and conservatism. 2213 […]

“Faith means belief in something concerning which doubt is theoretically possible.” — William James (again)

Eric Tassone writes: So, here’s a Bill James profile from late-ish 2014 that I’d missed until now. It’s baseball focused, which was nice — so many recent articles about him are non-baseball stuff. Here’s an extended excerpt of a part I found refreshing, though it’s probably just that my expectations have gotten pretty low of […]

A question about race based stratification

Can Candan writes: I have scraped horse racing data from a web site in Turkey and would like to try some models for predicting the finishing positions of future races, what models would you suggest for that? There is one recent paper on the subject that seems promising, which claims to change the SMO algorithm […]

Chess + statistics + plagiarism, again!

In response to this post (in which I noted that the Elo chess rating system is a static model which, paradoxically, is used to for the purposes of studying changes), Keith Knight writes: It’s notable that Glickman’s work is related to some research by Harry Joe at UBC, which in turn was inspired by data […]

Adiabatic as I wanna be: Or, how is a chess rating like classical economics?

Chess ratings are all about change. Did your rating go up, did it go down, have you reached 2000, who’s hot, who’s not, and so on. If nobody’s abilities were changing, chess ratings would be boring, they’d be nothing but a noisy measure, and watching your rating change would be as exciting as watching a […]

The 1980 Math Olympiad Program: Where are they now?

Brian Hunt: He was the #1 math team kid in our team (Montgomery County, Maryland). I think he came in first place in the international olympiad the next year (yup, here’s the announcement). We carpooled once or twice to county math team practices, and I remember that his mom would floor it rather than slow […]

Statistics job opening . . . at the NBA!

Jason Rosenfeld writes: I work for the NBA League Office headquarters in New York City. I’m the Director of Basketball Analytics here at the NBA, and I’m again recruiting analysts. More information on the roles I’m trying to fill can be found here ( I’m open to both undergraduate and graduate students. I’d be perfect […]

Two Unrecognized Hall Of Fame Shortstops

Michael Humphreys writes: Thought you might be interested in or might like to link to the following article. The statistical rigor is obviously not at a professional level, but pitched somewhere around the Bill Jamesian level. Here’s the link. This sort of thing makes me realize how out of it I am, when it comes […]

The plagiarist next door

In a comment on this chess-related post, Matt Gaffney pointed me to this wonderful page full of chess curiosities by Tim Krabbé. My nederlands is not what it used to be, but Krabbé has posted lots of material in English so that’s no problem. I started reading his “Open chess diary” (i.e., blog), it’s updated […]

Crowdsourcing data analysis: Do soccer referees give more red cards to dark skin toned players?

Raphael Silberzahn Eric Luis Uhlmann Dan Martin Pasquale Anselmi Frederik Aust Eli Christopher Awtrey Štěpán Bahník Feng Bai Colin Bannard Evelina Bonnier Rickard Carlsson Felix Cheung Garret Christensen Russ Clay Maureen A. Craig Anna Dalla Rosa Lammertjan Dam Mathew H. Evans Ismael Flores Cervantes Nathan Fong Monica Gamez-Djokic Andreas Glenz Shauna Gordon-McKeon Tim Heaton Karin […]

Debate on using margin of error with non-probability panels

Tomorrow (Thurs 22 Jan) at 2pm, I’m participating (along with Jane Tang, John Bremer, Nancy Brigham, and Steve Mossup) on an online discussion, moderated by Annie Pettit, on the above topic. Here’s the description: Most marketing researchers know that using Margin of Error with convenience samples, non-probability samples, and online research panels is inappropriate. However, […]

Stan comes through . . . again!

Erikson Kaszubowski writes in: I missed your call for Stan research stories, but the recent post about stranded dolphins mentioned it again. When I read about the Crowdstorming project in your blog, I thought it would be a good project to apply my recent studies in Bayesian modeling. The project coordinators shared a big dataset […]

Try answering this question without heading to Wikipedia

Phil writes: This is kind of fun (at least for me): You would probably guess, correctly, that membership in the US Chess Federation is lower than its peak. Guess the year of peak membership, and the decline (as a percentage) in the number of members from that peak. My reply: I don’t know, but I’d […]

The latest episode in my continuing effort to use non-sports analogies

In a unit about the law of large numbers, sample size, and margins of error, I used the notorious beauty, sex, and power example: A researcher, working with a sample of size 3000, found that the children of beautiful parents were more likely to be girls, compared to the children of less-attractive parents. Can such […]

Who should write the new NYT chess column?

Matt Gaffney gives these “three essential characteristics” for writing “a relevant, interesting weekly chess column” in 2014: 1. It must be written by someone who is deeply involved in the chess world. Summaries of information that is already available online won’t cut it anymore. And since newspapers can’t afford to send columnists around the world […]

Times have changed (sportswriting edition)

The name Tom Boswell came up in a recent comment thread and I was moved to reread his 1987 article, “99 Reasons Why Baseball Is Better Than Football.” The phrase “head injury” did not come up once. Boswell refers a few times to football’s dangerous nature (for example, “98. When a baseball player gets knocked […]

Ray Could Write

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections, To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. . . . You were silly like us; your gift survived it all: For chess makes nothing happen: it survives In the […]

2 on chess

Is it really “often easier to win a rematch than to defend a championship”? The quoted bit above comes from Tyler Cowen, writing about the Anand/Carlsen world championship rematch. I’m still not used to the idea of a new world championship match every year but I guess why not? Anyway, here’s my question. Tyler Cowen […]

“Derek Jeter was OK”

Tom Scocca files a bizarrely sane column summarizing the famous shortstop’s accomplishments: Derek Jeter was an OK ballplayer. He was pretty good at playing baseball, overall, and he did it for a pretty long time. . . . You have to be good at baseball to last 20 seasons in the major leagues. . . […]