There are two types of sports statisticians: academic and recorder.
Academic sports statisticians analyze data to look for trends. For example,
Robert Schutz recently analyzed overtime in hockey.
"The National Hockey League Record Book provided us with all the overtime
games over the past 10 years," he explains. "We used the data to decide the
value of overtime and to determine the optimal length of an overtime period."
These people usually have a master's degree or doctorate in mathematics
or statistics. They are often university professors.
"We pursue sporting statistics as an interest or hobby," says Schutz. "We
are professors, researchers, and we build sporting statistics into our work
as a professor.
"Using sporting statistics is also a very good way to teach statistics,
because many students are interested in sports. But there is no occupation
in either the U.S. or Canada where you would analyze sporting statistics as
the main thrust of your job."
Schutz estimates there are approximately three academic sports statisticians
in Canada and a few more in the U.S. In all cases, these people are not hired
as sports statisticians, but are pursuing it as a special interest.
The other type of sports statistician is a statistical recorder, who attends
sporting events and records the data in real time. According to Statistics
in Sports (a section of the American Statistical Association), the responsibilities
of a statistical crew include:
- Recording statistics as events happen
- Auditing stats with play-by-play
- Preparing final stats for league records
- Serving as official scorekeeper for both teams
- Entering computer data
- Preparing final and mid-game summary reports for the media
- Keeping up to date on changes in statistical scoring rules
- Being involved in resolution of disputed calls