This is my new favorite website.
This is my new favorite website.
According to Business Insider’s Sports Chart of the Day, it has been a great year for the SEC and Defensive Ends:
According to me, it has been an even better year for the SEC, DE’s and Charts That Could Have Just As Easily Been Venn Diagrams:
Not to put too fine a point on it: but goddamnit, Business Insider, you’re better than this.
Thanks to Microsoft Excel–and to Andy Staples’ excellent story on the continuing preponderance of elite defensive lineman who are recruited from one of eight states in the Southern obesity belt (bad pun)–I have managed to produce a graphic of equal or lesser intellectual value in less than five minutes.
–Thank you a hundred times, Susan Richard Nelson, for potentially granting my sure-to-be mediocre fantasy football team a last-minute reprieve. (ESPN)
–Feeling nervous yet, Malcolm Gladwell? I’d be feeling a little nervous, but hey, I’m no scientist. (St. Pete Times)
–Should the useless, unenforceable SPARTA Act the NCAA loves so much be repealed? Should Colby Lewis be sterilized permanently? Does Jim Tressel like wearing obnoxious sweaters (and, occasionally, lying)? These are the Questions of Our Age…(B.I.;Dallas Morning News;LVRJ
–The only thing funnier than the NCAA pretending that they are a non-profit is the BCS cartel pretending that they are an efficient means of determining playoff outcomes. This is not the opinion of some marginalized radical, but I don’t work for the Department of Justice, so who cares. (WSJ)
–Today in sleazy college athletics recruiting practices: Oversigning.
–The Telemundo soap opera formerly known as the LA Dodgers were taken over by the MLB last week, with Bud Selig and Co. citing “deep concerns” over the clubs finances and operations as the primary reason for Frank McCourt’s public mercy-killing. The Dodgers, by the way, are $430 million deep on a $145 million loan. So yeah, the takeover was warranted, the maudlin owner in-fighting was just a bonus.
But the sleeper point amidst all the debt and divorce is that the McCourt-owned Dodgers–like the Madoff-financed Mets–are more than just over-leveraged, they are over-leveraged in a patently silly, Lehman Brothers-esque sort of way. That is, over-leveraged for incredibly stupid, business-unsavvy reasons. Chief among these, as Dave Zirin points out, is the slow, semi-conscious alienation of middle and working class fans in the interest of accommodating the fleece-and-flip flops crowd. That strategy would be fine, if you could somehow pay for the installation of Wi-Fi in your antiseptic, faux-historic suburb-o-stadium (sponsored by Chic-Fil-A) solely with the ticket sales generated by that particular demographic. But you can’t. So the neglectful owner finds himself hoping to pay for a half-empty stadium by up-selling some combination of…what? Nine million $9 Sierra Nevada’s in a promotional cup? A billion locally-sourced, hand-crafted bags of wood-fired organic sunflower seeds? Free and reduced parking for Subaru Forrester’s?
I’m sure even Madoff thinks certain MLB owners are hilarious sometimes.
–It’s down to Peyton Hillis and Michael Vick for the cover of Madden 2012. This means that despite New England’s best electioneering efforts, only Danny Woodhead can (will?) “curse” Danny Woodhead next season. It also means that online voting for a video game cover is officially less of a depressing charade than the voting for TIME’s ‘Person of the Year.’
Take heart though Danny, you’ll always be every Masshole’s large-hearted boy.
The graph’s below establish the obvious in a sort of complicated way, but in a nutshell, they say: the academic performance of student athletes is, on average, inversely proportionate to the revenue and expenses associated with their sport.
That is, football players probably are, indeed, more athlete than student; and mixed rifle team members are certainly more student than athlete (at least by comparison to football players).
The (rev/apr) coefficient above gives a ratio measure of revenue in terms of corresponding APR (academic progress rate: “an APR of 900 is a statistical prediction that 40 percent of a school’s men’s basketball players will graduate. A 925 APR predicts a 50-percent rate, and so on.”). In a perfect world, that of the amateur athlete who is equal parts student and athlete, the ratio of APR gain (loss) to Revenue gain (loss) would either be somewhere closer to 1:1 or else just completely inelastic with respect to revenue. Instead, what we see at UNR and across the NCAA, is APR’s inflating as revenues decrease, or revenues increasing as APR’s decrease, however you wanna look at it. Ratios of 5:1 are common in some sports, ratios of 20, 50 and 100:1 are more like those you’ll see at top 25 basketball and football programs (they’ll be the ones in the top left and right quadrants of many of the diagrams).
Think of it this way: the UNR rifle team has a near-perfect APR of 1,000. In a system that rewarded that sort of thing, the rifle team would also have a perfectly large budget. But, simply put, no one likes to watch the rifle team and I don’t blame them. So that might partially explain the revenue side of the ledger, sort of, but the expenses side is trickier.
That’s why I did a (coaches salary/apr) curve as well. Obviously, universities and the NCAA can’t just allocate revenue strictly on the basis of academic progress. If they did, Winkelvoss-ian crew guys would be getting much more attention than academically ineligible centers at the Final Four, and nobody wants that. But they also don’t have to continue paying their coaches outrageous salaries, or just generally shelling-out boatloads of money to programs that have shown a chronic unwillingness or inability to care about academic measures of success.
Instead, they could just pay all their coaches the same (or nothing, like their players) and in this sense, at least, avoid the impression that universities themselves have actively incentivized a perverse trade-off between APR and revenue. As it stands, however, universities will buy a little more coaching/TV rights/exposure and they’ll pay for it with a little less APR.
That universities continue to do these things, consciously or otherwise, is the reason that the (sal/apr) curve below looks remarkably similar to the (rev/apr) curve above [see (2)].
–Lukas pointed this one out to me: predatory lending in the NFL lockout-relief market. The first thing the NFLPA advises rookies to do with their bonus is hire a financial advisor. The first thing they actual do is buy a house. If they bought that house in 2006 then at least they got an adjustable rate on their liar loan, not so this time, they’re just getting screwed from the outset. [Yahoo! Sports]
–How dare you suggest that the government has better things to investigate than point shaving at USD?!? Personally, I’m happy that tax dollars are funding any FBI investigation with a codename like “Hook Shot”. [WSJ]
–Richard Linklater’s “Inning By Inning”, a documentary-length profile of Texas head coach Augie Garrido, is really, really good. Here’s a clip. [You Tube]
–HBO Real Sports got some ex-Auburn players to talk about money in envelopes, etc. It was the least-engaging, but most publicized, part of the show. Find the rest wherever you can. [HBO]
–“College baseball teams are hitting half as many home runs and averaging a run less per game halfway through the season,” says the New York Times. According to recent NCAA data, “Overall batting average has dropped to .279 from .301; E.R.A. to 4.62 from 5.83; and the number of shutouts has jumped to 444 from 277.”
You see, this college baseball season marked the introduction of new NCAA aluminum bat standards meant to reduce the effective “sweet spot” of the non-wood bats used in college play. These new specifications limit the “Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution standard (BBCOR)”–the ball’s “exit speed” or “pop” off of the bat–and were intended to reduce the number of sickening thuds that can be heard when a ball meets a pitcher’s face at hundreds of miles per hour.
Guess what? The new standards (might have, possibly) worked (anecdotally)!
And yet no one is happy. Why? Because three-run homers are down. Double-digit run totals are down and at least one coach, according to the Times, fears that attendance will be down as a consequence.
These numbers were taken midseason, mind you, and that alone makes them pretty raw. Even the NCAA–always the first in line to receive a gold star for improving safety–says they need more research before making “definitive statements.”
That has stopped precisely no one–including UNR baseball fans, I’ve heard plenty of them–from deciding that losses and anemic offensive performances can and should be blamed on “dead bats”, normal statistical variation be damned. If it’s the bats’ “fault” then it’s very weird that statistics concerning the nominal decrease in line drive-induced comas were not made available. It’s baseball, give it another year and they’ll have a number for you. [NYX; NCAA]
How did you celebrate Monday’s 57th anniversary of the most boring day in history? Yeah, me neither.
Phil Miller at The Sports Economist wrote an excellent post on university subsidies of college athletics the other day. Using a data tool developed by ESPN, Miller compiled a table of the ten largest subsidies provided to athletics programs around the country. He then calculated subsidies at those schools as a percentage of the athletics program’s total operating revenue. Here’s the table, and his remarks, in full:
|University||Conference||University subsidy||Total operating revenues||Proportion|
“Given that UNLV, for example, is probably going to fire tenured faculty to deal with what amounts to a “fiscal collapse”, I find it hard to believe the UNLV athletic department enhances the value of the school by at least $19.275 million.”
I too, find that sort of hard to believe. In fact I find it hard to believe that there are more than five schools in the country could justify that large an athletics stipend. Just to make sure, I used the same data as Miller to compile a graph of university subsidies at schools with revenues of more than $20 million per year.
Fear not if you couldn’t find UNR’s little dot on the graph, our subsidy of athletics is a little less than $150,000, or less than one percent of our total operating revenue.
That said, you do have to spend money (expenses) to make money (revenue). But what do university athletic programs tend to spend money on? And how do they make it in the first place (besides, you know, just having it handed to them by the school in the form of a subsidy) ?
To answer those questions–and because I really like graphs–I just plain went crazy on Google Fusion. See below for a bunch of distributions plotting program expenses and revenue (X axis) against various major line items (Y axis). Sorry I couldn’t figure out how to embed them on the blog. I tried. Also, this isn’t my data story assignment, so I won’t really offer any analysis regarding correlations in these plots, even though I would like to. You know how to read scatter plots and bar graphs, so draw your own conclusions…
Expenses/Revenue *all DIV I schools*
So this might happen: a $1.5 million cut to the athletics program budget. EVERYBODY PANIC. But afterwards–once we’re all done foaming at the mouth and trying to figure out how many ski teams $1.5 million is worth–after all that lets just sit down and try to think about some common sense proposals that would absolutely preclude making a martyr out of the program that might, maybe, potentially get cut.
Instead of prematurely eulogizing one team or another (whichever team it might be), lets just sit back and do what Juan has already done, except in a less funny way. And with more economists.
As others have pointed out, the Pack may have “an attendance problem”. I’ll get to whether or not that’s actually the case one day, but for now, lets observe the fact that ticket sales are every athletic departments bread and butter, and that ours could be better. So how do we make them better? How do we fill more stadiums?
Even more importantly, how do we attract fans, boost revenue, and quickly make-up the $1.5 million the state wants to take from us? Here’s how others have done it, and these are just the schemes that I’m aware of, completely off the top…
–First and most obviously: shrink the size of the stadium! Charge exorbitant prices for “standing-room only” seats! Only half-joking about that one.
–Second and perhaps slightly less obvious: Give tickets away for FRE…oh yeah.
–Giving tickets away for free doesn’t work? Then pay people to go.
–Have a garage sale. Have a bake sale. Have a car wash. I wish I were kidding.
–MEDIA RIGHTS: Leverage our recent success/impending move to a bigger conference toward the negotiation of a better multimedia deal. We’re currently, as near as I can tell, earning barely more than $1 million ($320,000 in media rights; $906,915–in royalties, licensing, ads and sponsoring) with a company called Learfield. It’s a long shot, but if UNR were to beg and plead, IMG might just take them on board. IMG is to university athletics department’s what Jerry McGuire is to the Cuba Gooding Jr. character (whatever his name is) in ‘Jerry McGuire’; which is to say that the Pack would be wearing a lot of Under Armour for the foreseeable future, and that’s a good thing.
–NAMING RIGHTS: Look I like Mackay Stadium too, and normally I would not be in favor of such shameless commercialism, but if we can all happily attend something called the ‘Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl’ than I suspect we could warm up to the notion of the MOEN Toilet Bowl. Or the Panda Express Panda Bowl, or whatever.
–SEATING: Apply the two-part tariff system already in place at Lawlor for seating at basketball games (and in ticket pricing for students at basketball tournaments) to everything. In other words, sell us and everyone else the right to have access to the product (the reserved seat), then sell us the product (the season ticket accompanying that seat). Call it a “Xtreme Pack Pass” or some other hokey thing and sell it to us for $300 and let us get in to every sport, all the time, tournament or not. Continue selling everyone else “seating licenses”, or make it all less explicit by soliciting the infamous “processing fee.”
Whatever you do, do it quickly. First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is the (softball, baseball, ?) team gets fired.