Where do they get this stuff?
May 14, 2005 11:28 PM   Subscribe

How do professional sports commentators keep track of statistics? I imagine they have at least one person during games to crank out some stats for them, and there are probably statisticians for sports reporting shows, but how do they store and recall all this stuff?

"Joe Blow up to bat now, he's...12 for 18 against left-handed pitchers on Thursdays in the second game of a double-header when there's at least a 32% chance of rain." Half the time the stats seem almost completely irrelevant...and what kind of databse / search engine combination do they have to be able to pull this stuff out?
posted by attercoppe to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
They have people handing them information all the time, or they have it in front of them on paper or computer. When I used to help film high school football games, the announcers would bring in paper stats on all the players, and then review it before the game then throw the right stat out at the right moment.
posted by drezdn at 1:59 AM on May 15, 2005

Plus, they actually care about sports, which makes it easier to remember sports trivia. I know lots of useless theatre trivia, because I like theatre. But I could never remember sports trivia, because I don't care about sports.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:46 AM on May 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

The producer is feeding all kinds of information to the people in the booth during the game (whether stage directions, or stats via a statistician). If you watch sports long enough, you see traces of this: announcers saying irrelevant things like they're talking to someone who's not there; abrupt changes in conversational flow; etc.
posted by Doohickie at 6:45 AM on May 15, 2005

i used to work with someone who, as a sideline, had a company that tracked information like this (for rugby, i believe). so it seems that there are companies that provide this information to commentators. the employees had to watch games and note down all kinds of things (numbers of passes, tries, tackles, etc). i guess maybe the statistics are also used to rank/evaluate players within the sport (eg when considering who to buy).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:24 AM on May 15, 2005

College and pro sports teams, as well as the conferences and leagues, have sports information offices that keep all this data up to date. Of course, there are databases for every conceivable category, and during a game, for example, an assistant Sports Information Director will come around with updated stats several times during the game, spotlighting the noteworthy items that were previously highlighted in the pregame stats.

So, if I was covering an L.A. Raiders game, and they had scored 35 points by halftime, I'd want to know their highest halftime score this season, which would definitely be in the packet of pre-game stats, and their highest halftime score of all-time, which probably wouldn't be, but some assistant SID surely would have noted the scoring pace, and he/she would then add that info to the stats pages made up for copying and passing around at halftime.

I assume this happens much faster now in the internet age, but they were pretty darn fast with the copy machines.

I just realized the Raiders aren't in L.A. anymore. Just pretend I'm not pathetically out of date.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:39 AM on May 15, 2005

There are various stat bureaus that compile the information, and the teams put out media guides that have team related stats. As a sidenote, I was trying to figure out who the winningest visiting pitcher was at Coors Field, but could not. Anyone know this?
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:29 AM on May 15, 2005

It's out of season, so there aren't any pre-game info packets on the web, but here's an example of a post-game one. If you look at the end, the school provides all sorts of random factoids that they cull from the stats (in this case, intended at sports writers). The pre-game packet would have even more, and a lot of "speculative" ones, like: "so-and-so has scored 7 touchdowns to date this season, and only needs 1 more to set the Big East record." Very easy to get from that to the stuff they say on-air.
posted by smackfu at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2005

One project for a database class was to model a baseball game. Apparently someone takes notes about what occurs with every single pitch. Once you get all that data accumulated, you can cough up all sorts of statistics. The same is probably true for all pro sports.

As for the class, the TA herself knew nothing about baseball, and like most team projects, one or two people did the bulk of the work while everyone else sat around in glazed ignorance.
posted by mischief at 8:38 AM on May 15, 2005

The winningest pitchers at Coors Field are Pedro Astacio and Jason Jennings - 24 wins each.
posted by milkrate at 8:56 AM on May 15, 2005

The winningest pitchers at Coors Field are Pedro Astacio and Jason Jennings - 24 wins each.

Mind shedding some light on how you found that information, milkrate?
posted by hootch at 9:23 AM on May 15, 2005

I put together a kind of ugly looking game-by-game database that I use for some pretty useless research, but among the fields are which stadium the game was played and the winning pitcher. It goes through through 2004 - querying it gets me Astacio with 24 and Jennings with 23. Astacio pitches in the AL now, so he wouldn't have pitched at Coors this year since interleague doesn't start for another week or so, and Jennings has 1 win at home this year. I did fact check myself, though.
posted by milkrate at 3:32 PM on May 15, 2005

For cricket [a game consumed with stats] in New Zealand there has been one guy providing all the statistics for something like twenty years. He's there at the venue providing the commentators with historical stats and they often ask him on air to find out something and about 10 minutes later he'll come back with an answer. I presume these kinds of experts are brought to other sports as well.

As far as in-game stats they're all accessed off computer.
posted by meech at 4:31 AM on May 16, 2005

« Older What makes books special?   |   Why does my mac wake up randomly from sleep? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.