A new sports stats site with a silly name. Why is it here, and why should you care?
In November of last year, I was diagnosed with cancer. A year prior, I had a traumatic incident with the family jewels and hadn’t felt quite the same since. One of my kids had a cold, so I took them to the doctor’s office and casually mentioned my issue to the practitioner. Forget all the crap about not liking doctors and such, my son was starting school in the next year, and I figured paying attention to my health was the responsible thing to do. Anyway, the nurse checked me out and then recommended me for an ultrasound at the local hospital. Two weeks later, I was on the operating table, having literally the first major surgery in my life.
Thankfully, I had a good cancer. Good cancers are the types where you have your surgery, take your medicine, go through the excruciating repair and recovery process, and then you have a very strong chance of getting better. Bad cancers are the ones where you do all of that, but your chances of getting better are a coinflip or worse. Let me tell you, going from being a fit, active male to having your hip locked out, and not being able to walk properly for a month sucks. But it’s a helluva lot better than not getting the chance to see your kids grow up, so having a positive attitude about all of this was easy.
The first book I read after my surgery was Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise. I’ve worked in sports betting for over seven years now and been a data geek for far longer than that, so Nate’s stuff is inherently enjoyable for me. Reading his section on PECOTA made me wonder if the football analytics community ever got off the ground, and once I got out of the hospital I began bebopping around the internet, looking for information. What I found was that there was now good stuff all over the place, but it was scattered to the four winds. Most of it existed on personal blogs and there was no central hub for the analytics community (though credit to James Grayson for trying). In a way, it wasn’t that big of a deal because even in the moneyball era, football stats and analytics is pretty niche, right?
The other thing I realized when I was sick was that I really missed writing. In a past life, I not only edited a fairly large gaming site, but I also used to get paid for traveling around the world and writing about a card game. The whole process of working through problems, and communicating thoughts and ideas suddenly seemed really important to me. So I did what every person who has ever been on the internet does, and started writing on my blog. Given my output in recent months, I apparently had a lot to say.
Fast forward eight months and both the use of analytics and the community itself have exploded. Data is more readily available than ever, there are a ton of interested, clever parties writing about it, and teams and companies are certainly snapping up major contributors with interesting job offers. There’s even an actual, exists-in-paper book about analytics and football. But there’s still no central hub for publishing, everyone puts most of their material on their personal blogs, and the community exists almost exclusively on Twitter. What do you do if you’re a new person that wants to get your stats writing out there? As a fan, how do you possibly keep up with all the excellent writing these days?
Obviously, I wasn’t the only one noticing or experiencing these issues. The same thing was happening at the same time to the incredibly prolific Ben Pugsley. His home base was on the Manchester City fan page BitterandBlue.com, but what about when he wanted to write about all the other clubs? Or leagues? At that point, he either had to shop his stuff to specific fan pages, or plonk it on his own blog where it would be read in drips and drabs. Mutually frustrated, we put our heads together and decided to create our own site.
What is StatsBomb?
For starters, it’s going to be a place for analysts to publish their work on a website with a bigger, more regular traffic footprint than their personal blog. It’s also going to be a place where fans who are interested in this stuff can come every day for useful writing, info, modified league and player tables, etc. At some point in the coming months, we’re going to add a forum to the site, and hopefully that will become a bit of community hub in the process. The organization of some of the site will also change pretty regularly as we go along and discover better ways to display and update the information readers are interested in across the various leagues.
We’re going to start with football, but I don’t see us as limited to that sport. Cricket will be a natural fit, as will basketball and hockey. And I don’t see us limited to just stats either. If the site grows and fans respond, I see StatsBomb growing into a place you can come to for good, thoughtful writing about sports and/or numbers. At the very least, it’s a home for at least Ben Pugsley and I to dump all the stuff we’ve been working on that doesn’t live anywhere else. This includes my player analytics work, and Ben’s extremely useful stats transforms. At the very best, it could become something special.
If you are interested in being involved with the site at some level, get in touch, whether it’s involves hosting your work, creating graphics, updating tables from your favourite leagues… whatever. If you’re a reader and there are stats or features you want to see, get in touch and we’ll add those to the list of potential topics.
Anyway, welcome. Poke around, see what you like and don’t like, and don’t be afraid to give us feedback.
Ted Knutson – @mixedknuts
Ben Pugsley – @benjaminpugsley
StatsBomb Editorial – @statsbomb
Special thanks to Donnie Noland for creating the site logo.