Here’s another thing that’s America’s fault: the use of statistics in sport.
It’s no secret that I love numbers. Perhaps a little too much. It’s not so much the numbers as the insights we gain from them. (For more on my obsession with numbers – see this post) I find them to be fascinating.
And AFL? Well, that’s a statistician’s dream. There are so many things that can be measured by numbers that it’s unreal.
But how much is too much?
Firstly, (not that it needs pointing out, but for some reason… it needs pointing out) the game needs to remain about the game. Sometimes, when I’m watching footy on TV, all the statistics become distracting. They’re next to the score in the corner, they’re on the field during a bounce, they’re shown when kicking for goal, the commentators are spouting them left and right. It just becomes too much. It’s distracting. I don’t need to hear about every little thing.
Everyone wants to know which player has kicked the most goals. Everyone wants to know who has played the most games. And the hype to things leading up to this is great. I remember watching Ray Allen beat Reggie MIller to be the leading three-point scorer in the NBA – so much hype, so much fun (and the fact that it happened during a game against the Lakers was just the cherry on top).
Watching AFL games, it’s the same. Celebrating a 200th game? Cool. Kevin Sheedy’s 1,000th game? Awesome. Most goals kicked? Of course. People like stats like these and these are things worthy of celebration.
But things like… the youngest player to score ten points in the wet at Patterson? Bit much. Most tackles made by a forward versus the Demons? The only Swans player to kick 6 behinds and no goals at home on a Saturday two weeks before his birthday after have a knee reconstruction the year before? Gimme a break (okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch, but get my point). These stats aren’t as interesting because… well, I don’t want to say “no one cares” but it’s that no one knows that they should care.
So the question is: where do you draw the line? As per usuh, I have an idea.
Limit the statistic to two parts. Any more than that… and you’ve lost me.
Most games played (one part).
Most games played (part 1) at the MCG (part 2).
Most games played (part 1) at the MCG (part 2) by a Carlton player (part 3). – TOO MUCH
Most goals scored (one part).
Most goals scored (part 1) by a Gold Coast player (part 2).
Most goals scored (part 1) by a Gold Coast player (part 2) within three years (part 3). – TOO MUCH
Youngest player drafted (one part).
Youngest player drafted (part 1) by Essendon (part 2).
Youngest player drafted (part 1) by Essendon (part 2) since 1988 (part 3). – TOO MUCH
Get my drift? Once you add that third section in there, it’s just too much. It becomes too confusing, too specific and something that only hard core stats lovers like (and even that’s a bit questionable because honestly, what are you supposed to do with that information?).
Using statistics is great, but it seems like every game, someone has “broken” some obscure record that no one even knew existed and when that happens… they’re being overused. Stats should be used to enhance the game, not distract from it.
Find the line, guys. Find the line.