Harvard Sports Analysis

Harvard Sports Analysis

Last week I went Googling, looking for some new material for the site. I was immediately intrigued when I cam across a site called the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective(HSAC). The reason I started thevideoanalyst.com was because I always felt there was no central place for sports analysis to be discussed online, so it was great to find a site doing something similar in the US.

What is the HSAC?

The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective (HSAC) is a Harvard student organization dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management. Founded in 2006, HSAC is a club for students interested in sports, sports business, statistics, and problem solving.

Being based in a university setting allows them take the general idea of this organisation much further by publishing original analysis and research. As well as their research being published in various journals, the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times have all cited the club’s original research. This is a fantastic achievement and it would be great to see this type of organisation replicated around the globe.

Here are my top 3 things I found on the site.

1. Data analysis is running it’s course.

This article was published in the Boston Globe and details how a Tufts College are producing more statistical analysts than players for Major League Baseball. The college offers “Sabermetrics: The Objective Analysis of Baseball’’ has been taught at the Tufts Experimental College since 2004 by Andy Andres, a biology professor at Boston University who moonlights as a baseball researcher. Offered six times since its inception in 2003, the course fills up a few seconds after registration opens.

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2. Winning the toss is all that counts in NFL over-time

This article details the unfair nature of over-time in the NFL. About 98% of teams that win the OT coin toss choose to receive the ball. That first possession is an enormous advantage, since the winning team scores, on average, after just 5.5 minutes of OT to end the game.

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3. Late Game Timeouts: If the Game is Tied, Let Them Play

To foul or not to foul? The debate about the efficacy of intentionally fouling has raged on in basketball circles for years. Recently, Luke Winn looked at the issuethrough the lens of the classic Kansas St-Xavier Sweet Sixteen game, and Henry Abbott at TrueHoop looked at the issue from an NBA point of view. Abbott cited hoops statistician Wayne Winston’s study of NBA games that found no significant advantage to fouling when up three points. My (HSAC) dataset presents, to my knowledge, the first comprehensive empirical study of the issue for college basketball.

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I would encourage everybody, regardless of your sport to check out this site. There is something to be learned from analysts and researches the world over. Regardless of the sport, there are methods and techniques used that can be applied to any sport.

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