Statistics in Sports

Careers in Sports and Statistics

The most frequent questions addressed to SIS concern professional careers in sports statistics. While our Section's membership is ardent in their interest in sports statistics, most members reside in academia and industry and sports statistics is not their primary professional concern. In order to provide career guidance, the Section sent a questionnaire to several individuals involved professionally in the sports industry as statisticians. Their responses are provided below (slightly edited only to disguise their identities).

Another view of sports statistics as a profession is provided by Arthur Friedman in his book (with Joel H. Cohen) The World of Sports Statistics (New York: Atheneum, 1978). At the time of writing, Friedman was the official statistician for the New York Mets and New York Rangers. He had also served as statistician for the New York Knicks and New York Jets as well as Monday Night Football.

The views of the respondents vary somewhat with their positions in the sports industry. They all agree that the best way to get a start is to gain experience by performing a sports statistician's role on a voluntary or pro bono basis.

Sports statisticians for teams do not require the academic training of most professional statisticians in statistical theory, models, and applications. Their primary role is as collector/validator of data. Their secondary role is in identifying newsworthy items of statistical interest at the level of exploratory data analysis. Traditional academic training would be of greater value to consultants and data service analysts.

  • World Tour Statistician
  • Statistician who reports on and researches design of sports tournaments around the world.