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the "standing around" in baseball is qualitatively different from the standing around in football.

dan l


So what?

Oh don't get me wrong Kaiser, these stats are fun in that coffee table sort of way, but what conclusions can I really draw?

Certainly, the football article does a piss poor job of trying to pivot this into saying that "well, NFL broadcasts have changed over the last 40 years", but it's not like the relationship between the 2 items is that tight. As a matter of fact, there's probably a half dozen angles I could work to make that same point without having to do any scientific study at all.

The baseball article doesn't bother with actually drawing any conclusions, rather it just points out - that it's not just a myth that baseball players spend a lot of time standing around, they actually do.

dan l

As an offtopic, unrelated, aside - this sort of smugness annoys me:

Football—at least the American version—is the rare sport where it's common for the clock to run for long periods of time while nothing is happening.

In its game, NBC devoted more than twice as much time to nongame video packages as its competitors (decades-old pictures of John Madden with his wife, anyone?).

So he qualifies himself as a non-football fan by saying wink wink "yar---this is just that silly American version of football, not the real football that everybody else likes except for the people who read WSJ who are located in the US".

Smug comments like that make me want to do 2 things:
1. Take a stop watch to 'the beautiful game' and see just how much time is spent with actual 'action' as opposed to just the ball bouncing around midfield.

2. Remind people that while USA world cup soccer managed to pull 15 million viewers in (although, let's see if that buzz lasts - because it probably won't, lets be honest) , SNF still pulls in like 20. The super bowl brings in like 120.


Dan: It's clear I find these studies much more interesting than you did. I happen to watch a lot of football and baseball (and the other football), and while I have a qualitative understanding that there is much "standing around" and commercial breaks, it still surprised me when someone did the hard work to collect the data that there were only 10-15 minutes of action. Maybe I was just naive. (If you're reacting to my use of "scam", I'm using the word in a playful way.)

The other aspect of interest is the amount of effort needed to collect the right data to address the question. This is often overlooked. But it's everywhere in my book, for example... Minnesota inconvenienced all commuters to get data; the people doing Disney touring guides run around the parks all day to measure waiting times, so too the epidemiologists chasing after the source of e.coli.

As a calcio fan, I don't consider passing around the midfield as "standing around" (except in a lop-sided match or when both teams are playing for a tie), just as I don't equate a pitching duel with "nothing happening".

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Kaiser Fung. Business analytics and data visualization expert. Author and Speaker.
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