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Job Spotlight: Sports Statistician

The field of sports statistician is not exactly new; the American Statistical Association’s section on Sports Statistics was formed in 1992. Three of’s instructors have professional experience in sports statistics – Ben Baumer (SQL) served as statistician for the NY Mets, Stephanie Kovalchik (Meta Analysis in R) with Tennis Australia, and Joe Hilbe, who died in 2017, was a national champion track & field athlete and chaired the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics in Sports. But the real growth of jobs in this area did not start until about 10 years ago, and the interest in sports analytics spawned by the publication of Moneyball, the best selling book and movie, that chronicled the Oakland Athletics’ use of analytics to put together a winning team on a shoestring budget. Sports statistics now factors into jobs in a number of areas:

  • Most professional sports teams now have statisticians, and their jobs have expanded beyond the original scope of collecting metrics and scores. They now use more advanced analytic techniques to advise on player acquisition, as well as game tactics and strategy.

  • Sports game makers and fantasy league companies employ statisticians

  • Specialized companies aggregate and sell data and analytics services

  • Academicians boost their careers through publication of scholarly papers on sports

  • Analytics professionals have increasing input on the business side of sports.

One caution: sports arouses great passion and worldwide interest in a way that, say, actuarial statistics for insurance does not. Hence there are many applicants for sports analytics positions.