A recent blog post by John Mancini on big data and the recent presidential election entitled, “Big Data, Operation Narwhal, Project Orca and the Election of a President” made me think about how big data has the potential to change many aspects of life. One of the things that I am intrigued by a sports fan is the effect that big data has on the way that sports are analyzed and enjoyed. For example, with baseball there is SABRmetrics based on advanced statistics from the Society of America Baseball Research (SABR).

To the general public it is a no brainer that Miguel Cabrera won the MVP since he is the first triple crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Someone versed in SABRmetrics will say “not so fast my friend” because Mike Trout has better advanced stats then Cabrera and batting average, homeruns and RBI’s are an antiquated way of gauging a player’s value.

Advanced statistics are catching up in other sports, but one area they are sorely missing is in football, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. If you take the recent Heisman race for example it featured two quarterbacks and a LB. No purely defensive player has ever won the Heisman, there was Charles Woodson in 1997, but he was a kick returner. My theory on why few defensive players win the Heisman is because there are few sexy statistics to catch the eyes or advanced statistics to show how valuable a defensive player is. Aside from statistics like touchdowns the way a defensive player gets the media attention is by passing the eye test. With so many college football games and football being the ultimate team sport unless someone is dedicated to that particular team it is hard for a defensive player to have that opportunity to score high enough on the eye test to make up for a lack of statistics that are comparable to those of an offensive player. Add more advanced statistics to the defensive side of football and you will see more pure defensive players when the Heisman.

In what ways do you think more big data can bring a paradigm shift to normal life?

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