NHL Playoffs Statistical Preview

The stats love the Kings.

The stats love the Kings.

(Note: From time to time, I’ll take a break from proposing new sports ideas. This is one of those times.)

While the hockey stats revolution is still about a decade or so behind baseball, there are still some pretty telling stats in our toolbox today. My favorites are Corsi, Fenwick, and PDO.

Here’s a description of each from the awesome Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com:

  • Fenwick = Shots + Missed Shots
  • FF% = Fenwick For% = Fenwick For / (Fenwick For + Fenwick Against)
  • Corsi = Shot Attempts = Shots + Missed Shots + Blocked Shots
  • CF% = Corsi For% = Corsi For / (Corsi For + Corsi Against)
  • PDO = Shooting Percentage + Save Percentage while on the ice

There’s obviously a lot of overlap, but we’ll just ignore that for now. The main takeaway is that possession and shots are extremely important.

I compiled the FF%, CF%, and PDO on all 30 NHL teams from the 2013-14 regular season and standardized them into a z-score. For Fenwick and Corsi, a higher z-score is good. For PDO, a lower z-score is good.

I averaged these figures up in the “Total” column ((FF + CF – PDO) /3) and sorted them by that metric. To compared them to the actual regular season results, I also added the regular season standings points and goal differential.

Team FF% FFZ CF% CFZ PDO PDOZ Total Points Goal Dif
Los Angeles 56.1 1.83 56.8 2.01 1000 0.00 1.28 100 32
New Jersey 53.6 1.07 54.4 1.29 985 -1.33 1.23 88 -11
Chicago 55.4 1.62 55.5 1.62 999 -0.09 1.11 107 47
San Jose 54.6 1.38 53.7 1.09 998 -0.18 0.88 111 49
Florida 50.8 0.23 51 0.28 980 -1.77 0.76 66 -72
NY Rangers 52.6 0.77 52.4 0.70 997 -0.27 0.58 96 25
St. Louis 53.7 1.10 53.1 0.91 1007 0.62 0.46 111 57
Vancouver 51.6 0.47 51.3 0.37 995 -0.44 0.43 83 -27
Ottawa 51 0.29 52.4 0.70 997 -0.27 0.42 88 -29
NY Islanders 49.1 -0.28 49.4 -0.19 984 -1.42 0.32 79 -42
Detroit 51.5 0.44 51.5 0.43 1000 0.00 0.29 93 -8
Winnipeg 50.5 0.14 50.1 0.02 994 -0.53 0.23 84 -10
Carolina 49.6 -0.13 50.3 0.08 994 -0.53 0.16 83 -23
Nashville 49.4 -0.19 48.5 -0.46 989 -0.97 0.11 88 -26
Dallas 50.9 0.26 50.5 0.14 1002 0.18 0.07 91 7
Tampa Bay 51.3 0.38 51 0.28 1007 0.62 0.02 101 25
Boston 53.4 1.01 53.9 1.15 1025 2.21 -0.02 117 84
Phoenix 50 -0.01 50.5 0.14 1003 0.27 -0.05 89 -15
Philadelphia 49.2 -0.25 50 -0.01 1003 0.27 -0.18 94 1
Pittsburgh 49.2 -0.25 48.7 -0.40 1001 0.09 -0.24 109 42
Calgary 47.7 -0.70 46.3 -1.11 988 -1.06 -0.25 77 -32
Columbus 49.8 -0.07 49.9 -0.04 1008 0.71 -0.27 93 15
Minnesota 48.8 -0.37 48.6 -0.43 1010 0.89 -0.56 98 1
Washington 47.1 -0.88 47.7 -0.69 1002 0.18 -0.58 90 -5
Montreal 47.9 -0.64 46.7 -0.99 1005 0.44 -0.69 100 11
Anaheim 50.1 0.02 49.8 -0.07 1024 2.13 -0.72 116 57
Edmonton 44.1 -1.78 44.3 -1.70 990 -0.89 -0.87 67 -67
Buffalo 42.8 -2.17 43 -2.09 982 -1.59 -0.89 52 -91
Colorado 46.7 -1.00 47 -0.90 1018 1.59 -1.17 112 30
Toronto 42.3 -2.32 42.9 -2.12 1013 1.15 -1.86 84 -25

It’s not hard to see why Toronto and their notoriously anti-analytics front office fell off the rails, but how did Colorado manage to achieve a No. 1 seed in the West? (Answer: Unsustainably over-achieving goaltending from Semyon Varlamov.)

For the sake of comparing these stats to regular season results, here’s how Total looks plotted against goal differential:

playoff data 2

(Sorry some of those are cut off. The far left is Toronto, and the far right are Los Angeles and New Jersey.)

The correlation is only .1845, which suggests that these metrics should probably only be used as a guideline in telling us what teams may have over- and under-achieved this season relative to their actual performance.

First round match-ups

Ok, so how do these teams’ stats compare for the first round match-ups?

Home Ice Total Road Ice Total Difference
Colorado -1.171 Minnesota -0.512 -0.66
St. Louis 0.106 Chicago 0.905 -0.80
Anaheim -0.575 Dallas 0.289 -0.86
San Jose 0.926 Los Angeles 1.233 -0.31
Boston 0.101 Detroit 0.356 -0.25
Tampa Bay 0.018 Montreal -0.377 0.40
Pittsburgh -0.200 Columbus -0.483 0.28
NY Rangers 0.753 Philadelphia -0.244 1.00

In the West, every matchup’s lower seed has a higher total, which suggests that upsets could be rampant. Most notably, Minnesota and Dallas have a considerable edge over the two No. 1 seeds. And whoever emerges from the San Jose vs. Los Angeles showdown (two of the three highest Totals in the playoffs) should be a serious contender to make the Stanley Cup Finals.

In the East, it’s a bit more chalk, but again, a No. 1 seed (Boston) has a lower total than its opponent (Detroit).

Does this mean all the No. 1 seeds are going down? No, probably not. But it does indicate they’re very susceptible to being upset—not just in the first round, but in every round of the playoffs.

Vegas odds

Finally, let’s take a look at how these Total figures for each team compare to Vegas. My (extremely unscientific and non-statistically sound) formula for a stat I call “BetFigure” is:

BetFigure = [(Total Differential + 2.5) * 0.2] / Vegas Win Percentage

From my (again, unscientific) experience, anything over 1.50 is generally a profitable bet.

Team Line Win Pct Total Opponent Total Total Diff BetFigure
Detroit 235 29.9% 0.356 Boston 0.101 0.25 1.85
Dallas 165 37.7% 0.289 Anaheim -0.575 0.86 1.78
Columbus 210 32.3% -0.483 Pittsburgh -0.200 -0.28 1.37
Minnesota 115 46.5% -0.512 Colorado -1.171 0.66 1.36
Chicago -105 51.2% 0.905 St. Louis 0.106 0.80 1.29
Los Angeles 125 44.4% 1.233 San Jose 0.926 0.31 1.26
NY Rangers -150 60.0% 0.753 Philadelphia -0.244 1.00 1.17
Tampa Bay -117 53.9% 0.018 Montreal -0.377 0.40 1.07
Montreal -103 50.7% -0.377 Tampa Bay 0.018 -0.40 0.83
Pittsburgh -250 71.4% -0.200 Columbus -0.483 0.28 0.78
San Jose -145 59.2% 0.926 Los Angeles 1.233 -0.31 0.74
Philadelphia 130 43.5% -0.244 NY Rangers 0.753 -1.00 0.69
Colorado -135 57.4% -1.171 Minnesota -0.512 -0.66 0.64
St. Louis -115 53.5% 0.106 Chicago 0.905 -0.80 0.64
Boston -280 73.7% 0.101 Detroit 0.356 -0.25 0.61
Anaheim -190 65.5% -0.575 Dallas 0.289 -0.86 0.50

So there you have it, Detroit and Dallas. Take it to the bank. Guaranteed*



Restructuring the March Madness bracket

Realistic rating: 5.5

With a No. 7 and No. 8 seed qualifying for the Final Four, this year’s tourney again highlights some of the same issues that have always plagued college basketball—the extreme unpredictability of the postseason. While most fans probably love this aspect of the sport, it brings up a number of problems with the college basketball season as a whole, namely: the meaningfulness of the regular season and the frequency with which the best team actually wins the championship.

Perhaps the most fundamental concept every sport must confront is how to balance fairness vs. excitement—or in other words, how often should the best team win? There are some sports that probably have too high a percentage (e.g. sprinting, NBA) at the expense of excitement/unpredictability, while others have far too low a frequency of the best winning but enjoy a very high level of excitement/unpredictability (e.g. MLB).

College basketball falls about as far on the excitement end of the spectrum as any sport. This makes the postseason extremely fun and unpredictable, but the regular season, well, is just about meaningless. Plus, the “champion” is rarely the best team.

This is due to the postseason’s structure—a 68-team single elimination tournament in which every team, with the exception of the eight involved in play-in games (no, I’m not calling those “round one”), has ostensibly the exact same starting position, requiring the six victories to win the championship (i.e. there’s not much reward for regular season performance other than a higher seed, which in many cases is actually a negative.) Thus, as much as ESPN likes to hype a regular season game such as No. 1 Syracuse vs. No. 5 Duke last month, it really doesn’t matter who wins, as there’s not much reward for the victor.

A couple of weeks ago on Deadspin, I wrote a piece discussing some of these issues with this format and proposed a few alternatives, such as a World Cup style, a bye tiered bracket, and a standard bracket with randomized lower seeds. (The heavy math for these proposals is there.) While these were all certainly improvements on the current format, they were, as Mike Ehrmantraut would say, a “half measure.”

Expanding (Yes, Expanding) the Bracket

Considering there are 351 Division I basketball teams, allowing 68 (19.4%) into the postseason a good figure if you must have a single-elimination, limited-tier (by “tier” I mean giving certain teams byes or other hard advantages other than playing a weaker first round opponent). However, contrary to what most hardcore fans may believe, making the postseason more exclusive will only make the regular season more meaningful for roughly the top 25% of teams. With fewer teams in the tourney, the regular season would be far less meaningful for the bottom 75%, because for the vast majority of teams in smaller conferences, their season is entirely meaningless only a dozen games into the season. (Note: Yes, there are incredibly dumb conference tournaments that render single-bid conference regular seasons meaningless, but we’ll just ignore that for now.)

But how can you make the regular season more meaningful for all 351 teams without making the postseason even more of a crapshoot? Here are a couple of straightforward solutions, which could really be applied to all sports:

1. Simply have best-of-three series at certain rounds of the tourney. This would be highly impractical for a number of obvious reasons, though, so let’s assume we have to stick to single elimination. Also, while decreasing the randomness, best-of-three series still wouldn’t make regular season success more meaningful.

2. Have a dramatically bye-tiered bracket. The example for this kind of setup in the Deadspin piece only had three bye tiers: #1-4 seeds on bye to the round of 32, #5-8 at the normal starting position, and #9-16 with a play-in game to the first round. This still didn’t result in quite as much significance for regular season success as I would have liked, though, but how about some of these?




In each of these brackets, there’s now a much greater reward for landing a higher seed, which would make the regular season far much more meaningful while also giving much higher likelihood to the chances of the best teams being there the final weekend. I’m a huge proponent of tiered bracket systems in which higher seeds get greater rewards (in the form of byes or otherwise) and wish more leagues other than the NFL would adopt such measures. (More on this in future posts to be sure.)

I’m not sure if I’ll be rooting for UConn or Kentucky this weekend. Should either win, it will be a glaring mark on the legitimacy of the NCAA champion title, but at the same time, it might garner further exposure for the sham the current format really is.

Bottom line: These proposals really don’t shake up things all that much (i.e. still single-elimination bracket, still four regions, etc.), but with the NCAA making a boatload of money as is, the probably won’t want to change much. Still, with even the highest regular season game (a 5000+ game sample size) rating falling well below almost all of the 68 tournament games, there’s certainly a missed revenue stream opportunity.

Why doesn’t the NFL stagger games every hour on Sundays like March Madness?

There's a better way to do this.

There’s a better way to do this.

Realistic rating: 8.0

After being transfixed by the first two days of the NCAA tournament, in which games are starting/ending every hour all day (a scheduling format that somehow wasn’t implemented until only a few years ago), my first thought was, “Hmm, what other sports league has 16 games to broadcast each week, pretty much all on the same day…”

I’ve long had many issues with the NFL’s weekly schedule. I’ve never understood why every Sunday the league always dumps a whopping 8-10 games at 1 p.m. and only three at 4 p.m. (four if we’re lucky). After 10-game chaos during the early slate, which makes it impossible to keep track of everything around the league, RedZone abruptly screeches to a halt around 4:15. Plus, there’s a giant vortex of nothing from 7:30-8:30 between the late games and Sunday Night Football (not to mention the vortexes at 2:30 and 5:30 when each slate of games’ halftimes align).

The NFL could certainly stand to spread out its games a bit more. Now ideally, this would include Fridays and Saturdays, but because of an anti-trust agreement, the NFL isn’t allowed to broadcast games those days, a measure in place to prevent the pro ranks’ cannibalization of high school and college football. (This rule seems pretty dumb. The NFL is only one of thousands of entertainment options that compete with high school and college football viewership. It’s not like they prohibit movies from being shown on Saturday afternoons. Imagine how much NBC’s already low ratings would plummet if they prevented The Voice from airing on certain nights to protect other shows. But I digress…)

However, if we must operate under the (dumb) limit of only having NFL games on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays, here’s how each week could be scheduled…

(All times EST)


Game 1: 8:00 p.m.


Game 2: 11:00 a.m.

Game 3: 12:00 p.m.

Game 4: 1:00 p.m.

Game 5: 2: 00 p.m.

Game 6: 3:00 p.m.

Game 7: 4: 00 p.m.

Game 8: 5:00 p.m.

Game 9: 6:00 p.m.

Game 10: 7:00 p.m.

Game 11: 8:00 p.m.

Game 12: 9:00 p.m.

Game 13: 10:00 p.m.


Game 14: 7:00 p.m.

Game 15: 8:00 p.m.

Game 16: 9:00 p.m.

That’s right, a MNF triple header! And this is only for the eight weeks in which all 32 teams are playing. For bye weeks, you could easily take out the 8 p.m. MNF game, the late 10 p.m. Sunday, and/or the early 11 a.m. Sunday games.

Now, this might seem so obvious that there surely has to be a reason the NFL hasn’t done it already, right? One reason might be that the primetime deals with NBC, ESPN, and now CBS are far more lucrative when they’re stand-alone games, but surely the price the NFL charges for these rights wouldn’t be cut by more than half if it came with the caveat that there was another game at that time on a different channel. Plus, as the NFL learned from some unspeakably dreadful MNF match-ups this season—and even one SNF one despite flex scheduling (Giants-Redskins), it’s probably a good idea to have some backup in case there are some clunkers.

I suppose the FOX and CBS might also want a designated time to synchronously broadcast halftime shows, but are Jimmy, Terry, Howie, and the gang really so invaluable to prevent implementation of PERPETUAL Sunday football?

And sure, the NFL likes its “Game of the Week” at 4 p.m., but it already has a Thursday, Sunday, and Monday national game (and under my proposal, would have multiple Monday night games). Plus, it’s not like the NFL can’t designate the 4 p.m. game as the “Game of the Week” and nationally broadcast it for all the markets who don’t have a local game at that time.

And while a staggered slate might be more difficult for CBS/FOX to schedule for a national audience, I figure each local area will still get its local game at its designated time, with CBS/FOX filling in the rest of the time as they so choose in each market.

Bottom line: Even if the league did want stand-alone primetime games, there’s no reason the afternoon slate couldn’t be staggered. And the best part? They can still run RedZone, only now all day!

The mind-blowingly obvious solution to “instant” replay

Scott Green, instant replay

Why must this charade continue?


Realistic rating: 9.5

There was much consternation last season about the inability to review penalty calls and missed penalty calls in the NFL. Rightfully so. There were tons of critical penalties in 2013 that were either called or not called, many of which likely decided key games (e.g. Panthers-Patriots defensive holding no-call, Saints-49ers roughing the passer call, etc.)

The classification what’s reviewable certainly does seem arbitrary, and the “challenge anything” movement appears to be building momentum. Sadly, though, a solution doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Here are Tuesday’s comments from St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the NFL’s competition committee:

“We discuss replay every year,” Fisher said. “I think we go back to the foundation of the replay system, it was designed to overturn an obvious error. We knew it was not going to be a perfect system, just from a time standpoint and a number of challenges standpoint. I think that will be discussed but I think it’s unlikely we move in the direction of penalties. That’s a hard thing to do. The only penalty that’s actually reviewable on the field is too many men on the field. I think once we look at penalties you’re asking for problems.”

First of all, Fisher’s first sentence immediately sets off my “but this is the way we’ve always done it!!!” dumb argument siren. Secondly, the “solution” for time concerns doesn’t make much sense. Rather than arbitrarily deciding what kinds of calls can and cannot be challenged, it seems much more reasonable to simply limit the number of reviews. (For example, the vast majority of touchdowns and turnovers are pretty obvious, so it’s odd that the NFL has decided to automatically booth review all of these.)

The bigger thing, though, is that these time concerns are only an issue because of the current review system in place. There’s such an obvious solution to assuage just about any concerns about accuracy and speed that it’s really quite shocking that no major sports league has implemented this idea yet:

Have the refs make all the calls. Have them all wear earpieces connected to a centralized review station. Have the review station instantly voice any wrong calls, and have the refs at the stadium quickly and seamlessly correct them as needed.

This is of course assuming leagues are unwilling to install cheap and 100 percent accurate lasers or RFID tag technology that could instantly display a large majority of calls. If we must accept that human eyes must determine all calls—for those who prefer on human eyes to machines, I hope you are not an airline pilot, brain surgeon, or election official—then this replay format seems like a no-brainer.

Why is it called “instant replay” when the process is anything but “instant”? We currently live in a sporting world in which the millions of fans watching at home know the correct call long before the only guys who actually have the authority to make a decision. How absurd is that? How many times have you been sitting at home watching a game, watched a play live, seen a replay five seconds later that immediately clarifies what the correct call should be, and then…. Have to wait five minutes and a full commercial break while a ref to trots over to some cramped replay booth to look at the play on some tiny screen.

Bottom line: The “instantly radio down any corrections” solution seems incredibly easy to implement. Hopefully, some day soon, a league will adopt it. (Or, you know, lasers.)

Update: After publishing this, I noticed that Brian Billick made a similar argument two years ago. Brian Billick! Who knew? Sadly, if this idea has been out there for two years with no progress, it’s not looking too great in the short-term…

Time to take judging out of ski jump

Carina deserves better.

Carina deserves better.

Realistic rating: 9.0

I tuned into some sweet ski jumping action last week and quickly realized it had to be the most boring sport I’d ever seen. Made-for-TV packaging doesn’t help either: The qualifying rounds, a condensed broadcast that just rapid-fired through all the action, still bores you after no more than a few jumps. Four-hour Tour de France stages are more interesting. Even the women’s final, which should have been an incredibly awesome finish (the last jumper, German Carina Vogt, took gold on her final leap), lacked any drama. So why does ski jumping fail so spectacularly as a spectator sport?

Answer: The lack of instantly identifiable exciting moments due to the fact that we have to wait for judges to assign “style points.”

The only noticeable cheers all week were when a German guy completely ate it on his landing and quickly popped up. So no, not a long jump, great landing, or anything else drew a really loud cheer—just the assurance that one of the competitors hadn’t become an insta-quadriplegic. Exciting stuff!

In a piece in The Atlantic this week, I wrote about why judging in ski jump should be eliminated and how this change could be implemented.

Now, I’ll concede that if there were ever an pure distance/height event that had some kind of landing component, this would probably be it. Admittedly, it does make some sense that a jumper who belly flops like a rag doll should be penalized a bit versus someone who sticks the landing, but those should really be the only two delineations: landing on your skis or not. (I’m trying to view this sport as it would be applied in real-life conditions. If you’re a CIA spy fleeing Soviets in Siberia, who cares if you don’t have a flawless landing when you ski over that cliff? If you crash and burn, though, then sure, that’s probably an issue.)

Read the full story here.

Bonus: I also offer my unequivocal endorsement for this addendum:

Why prevent NBA teams from only playing four players?


Chris Kaman seeing his psychiatrist.

Realistic rating: 9.5

Last night, Lakers center Robert Sacre invoked a little-known NBA rule when he fouled out of the Lakers-Cavs game. With the Lakers not having any players available on their bench at the time of Sacre’s sixth foul, they would have been down to only four players had Sacre been forced to leave the game, thus triggering Rule No. 3, Section I, which states:

“No team may be reduced to less than five players. If a player in the game receives his sixth personal foul and all substitutes have already been disqualified, said player shall remain in the game and shall be charged with a personal and team foul. A technical foul also shall be assessed against his team. All subsequent personal fouls, including offensive fouls, shall be treated similarly. All players who have six or more personal fouls and remain in the game shall be treated similarly.”

First off, let me say that as a huge proponent of instituting “power play”-type situations in many sports other than hockey (I’ll save that for a later post), I’m vehemently against this rule. Wacky things in sports like a shortstop having to pitch, a goalie having to take a shootout shot, or a quarterback having to punt are ALWAYS insanely entertaining—highlights fans talk about for years. Playing a basketball game with four players more than qualifies for that category. Why go out of your way to prevent such fun from occurring?

Possible exploitations

The other issue I have is that I don’t understand how referees can arbitrate when a team qualifies for this rule. The reason the Lakers triggered it was because they only dressed eight players that night, and that number shrank down to five due to a Nick Young knee injury, a Chris Kaman foul out, and a Jordan Farmar leg cramp all occurring prior to Sacre’s sixth foul. But how could the refs know if Farmar’s cramp was really a “cramp”?*

The reason I bring this up is because teams could theoretically lie about the health of their players if it would keep a star player with six fouls in the game. A prominent example of a situation in which a team could benefit from exploiting this rule would be Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. When LeBron James fouled out with 1:51 left in the first overtime, the Heat fell apart without the league MVP, eventually losing in a second overtime to notch the series at 2-2. Since LeBron was such a valuable asset to have on the floor, it’s almost certainly  worth the tradeoff of having any potential fouls he commits be technicals, so the Heat would surely prefer to have him on the court, even with that corollary in place.

The issue, though, is that according to the wording of the rule, it seems that since the Heat had available players on their bench, LeBron could not remain on the floor. This is wherein my question lies: What would have prevented Heat bench players like Norris Cole and Mike Miller from suddenly “””””“cramping up”””””” (add like seven more quotation marks) and reducing the number of available Heat players to just five, thus forcing LeBron to stay in the game? (Even if the Heat couldn’t sub out for the rest of the game, retaining a player of LeBron’s caliber would still likely make such a ploy more than worthwhile.)

*It should also be noted that the Lakers were on the verge of putting Steve Nash—who was resting that night—in the game, but decided against it. Wouldn’t that technically have made him “available,” thus negating the Sacre situation?

Miscellaneous issues

1. Another issue about this rule is that it—admittedly, very marginally—changes the strategy of the game before a player fouls out. Whenever a player has five fouls, it gives a strategic edge to his opponents, because the player theoretically doesn’t want to foul out, so he may be a bit more tentative on defense, allowing teams to deliberately go at him when they have the ball. Without that fear, a five-foul player may continue to play at his normal defensive standard.

2. If the six-foul player accrues a tech every time he fouls, what happens if he draws two of these? Does he simply not have a technical foul limit anymore?

3. Can other players who had previously fouled out now come back in the game with the technical corollary in effect? So many questions.

4. What if Sacre suffered a truly debilitating injury. Would his writhing body have to lay in the corner of the court while his teammates played? Or would the Lakers have had to forfeit, even though they had a double-digit lead?

It’s worth noting that the Golden State Warriors encountered a similar situation in 2010, but when Devean George fouled out, the referees forced Don Nelson to play a clearly hobbled Chris Hunter.** This seems like a clear double standard compared to the one the referees employed for the Lakers last night.

**Nellie had to swap in three injured players, instructing each of them to throw a quick intentional foul, so that he could eventually put George back in the game. Here’s a video of some of that genius strategy:


Well, the obvious solution to me, as referenced above, is to simply remove this rule and force teams to play with four players.

If the league *must* have some form of this rule, then I’d simply suggest a steeper penalty than just a technical foul whenever the six-foul player draws a whistle to prevent any of the aforementioned chicanery. Perhaps something like a flagrant foul—where the team gets two free throws and the ball—would do the trick.

Bottom line: Teams playing four players would almost never come into play, so changing this rule really isn’t that intrusive. (According to SportsCenter, it’s only happened twice in the last 10 years.) If a team screws up this badly, let the opposing team (and fans) reap the benefits.

Who to really blame for sports stadium subsidies


Your tax dollars at work.

Realistic rating: 5.5

Last week, I wrote a piece for the Federalist about how the media covers government subsidies for professional sports stadiums. (Like my last post on tennis ranking methods, this is a post about media coverage—not a proposal about a formal rule or protocol from a new team, but it still gets a “realistic rating” simply for the likelihood of it occurring.)

First off, if you aren’t familiar with this issue, I’d direct you to a piece in The Atlantic about how government subsidies for stadiums are a horrible deal for taxpayers. (In my article, though, you’ll see why you should skip the headline on that story and just go straight to the text.)

Unlike the tennis rankings post, this idea of placing more blame on the politicians who hand out these sweetheart deals rather than the owners who ask for them has a much higher likelihood of being more widely adopted by the media. (For obvious reasons, mainly that this isn’t some entirely new-fangled statistics idea being thrown out by some guy on the Internet but simply a shifting in what appears to be a 2-3 option decision.) And as the terrible effects of crony stadium subsidy deals become more well-known, more smart people will investigate the true causes and see where to point the finger.

Anyways, take a look at the whole piece here.