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Who Cares About Analytics, Just Enjoy The Drama Of Sports

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – DVOA, FEI, OPS+, WAR, ERA+, FPI, SP+, xFIP, WS/48, and so many more acronyms are now part of many sports fans vocabulary as there is a thirst for more and better information about their favorite sports.

Are those stats really necessary to just enjoy a game?

These advanced stats and metrics are valuable in a lot of ways, whether it be people who cover a certain sport, front offices when scouting players, fantasy sports, or gambling on games.

Usually, more information is better but maybe too much information is not the way to go for sports when it comes from a pure enjoyment standpoint. With so much data trying to predict and analyze literally anything done on the field is at times making the game less fun for fans, which is the stance of KSL’s UnRivaled.

More KSL UnRivaled:

There can be a balance in being a more informed fan than just using staple stats like points per game, ERA, yards per game, and so on because there are better ways to look at the game without getting into the weeds. With these advanced metrics, it seems that playing the game itself is useless or a foregone conclusion.

One prime example of advanced stats and just watching the game came from the Thursday night NFL game which saw Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson find wide receiver Tyler Lockett in the back of the end zone to make an incredible catch.

We can all agree that this was an amazing play. However, we live in a world with so many stats, numbers, and formulas that during the game itself ESPN put a number on the odds of making that catch.

“Wilson’s throw had a completion probability of 6.3 percent, the lowest on any passing touchdown across the NFL in the last three seasons, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Lockett had 0.90 yards of separation when he caught it.”

It was pretty clear that the catch and throw were amazing and a rare feat. Was there really a need to quantify the odds of making that catch? Of course not. Just because we have the tools to do so does not mean we have to break something down and quantify it.

Stats Are For Losers

Sometimes it is fun to just sit back and watch the game and KSL Sports and former NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell has a strong take when it comes to using analytics and advanced stats.

“You know what people say about statistics?” Mitchell asked. “They are for losers. The bottom line is that you can give me all the numbers you want. The game is played by individuals who either rise up to the occasion or they don’t.”

“That is what is alluring about sports. It is not pre-determined and it is not something we know the outcome at all,” Mitchell said. “Most of the time the better team wins but there is always that possibility, that chance that the underdog that no one gives a chance and all the statistics tell you [otherwise].”

Mitchell is not totally against the power of analytics and how those numbers are great resources but sometimes they don’t matter when it comes down to the right play call due to a gut feeling or a player just rising up to make an extraordinary play. Yet, he is not a fan.

“People love this stuff but I hate’em,” Mitchell said.”I just believe in the human spirit and I believe it rises up against the stupid numbers.”

Advance Stats Do Have Value

Mitchell’s co-host, Alex Kirry, argues for stats, to a degree. He likes stats and believes in what they can do for teams but also realizes that one can get caught up and lost in the numbers.

“Analytics do work, they absolutely work. Data is powerful. It is not absolute but there are trends you can not ignore and trends teams follow to find success,” Kirry said. “Look at [the movie] Moneyball it gave an edge to a team that is so far beyond from having any sort of edge.”

Kirry goes on to say why he does not participate in fantasy football because he would be watching the games he enjoys but it would be for a different reason and it would not just be to root for his favorite team.

Watching sports is supposed to be fun. So, take a step back and watch these games and not worry about anything other than if your favorite team is winning or losing.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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