Statistics have become an integral part of the sports world. Nearly every single major sport has kept stats such as points, touchdowns, and goals for decades. Today, teams and the leagues are taking more analytical and advanced stats that many people cannot even understand. For example, the NFL has a stat called QBR, which stands for total quarterback rating. Complicated mathematical formulas measures the statistic. But how does all of this affect the players?
Some have accused players of being “stat chasers,” which means they compromise their team’s chances of winning to increase their stats. One of the accused players is the NBA’s Russell Westbrook. For the past two years he has averaged a triple-double, meaning he averages at least 10 points, ten rebounds, and ten assists over the course of the season. Fans believe that he purposely tries to go for this stat by stealing rebounds from his teammates and taking poor shots. He is the primary victim because his team has not been successful in the playoffs in recent years.
Stats also affect players through the draft. Some NFL teams disregard the NFL draft and select players who underperform in college. This year, Josh Allen was selected 7th overall by the Buffalo Bills. He only threw for 1812 yards. Meanwhile, Lamar Jackson fell to the 32nd pick, but threw for 3,660 yards, and ran for over 1,000. Teams looked more at Josh Allen’s measurables: his height and arm strength. They valued this over how well he played, which has hurt teams in the past. One prime example of a failed player with great measurables is Jamarcus Russell. Russell was drafted with the 1st pick in 2007. He had tremendous arm strength, but was inaccurate and never performed well in the NFL. In the draft, it can be wise to measure performance over measurables.
Stats can somewhat tell the story of a game but can be misleading. If a player has a great game stats-wise, they may score a lot of points, or throw for a lot of yards, but this does not tell the whole story. In basketball, the defense is not measured in a stat that is shown in the box score, but it is essential. A player could score 30 points, but not play any defense and they would have a good stat line, but they would not have played a good game. As a result, many coaches dislike stats, and tell players not to worry about them.
Overall, stats can be useful but also misleading. Players are acutely aware of their stats, and sometimes even worry about them. Coaches have become wary of stats and suggest that the players play as hard as they can. Stats do not matter– all that matters is whether the team won or not.
Graphic: Amelia Chen