By Derek Stiles
Just a few weeks ago Charles Barkley made ripples through the sports media community when he laid down his opinion on the relationship between analytics and sports.
“I’ve always believed analytics were crap,” Barkley said.
It all started when Barkley was critical of the Houston Rocket’s defense, calling them “the worst in the league.” In reply, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey Tweeted, “Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles [Barkley] spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment.”
This led to Barkley’s rant on analytics and sports.
“Analytics don’t work at all. They’re just some crap that some people who are really smart made up to try to get in the game ’cause they had no talent. Smart guys want to fit in so they made up a term called ‘analytics’…. What analytics do the San Antonio Spurs have?… All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common: they’re a bunch of guys who ain’t never played the game and they never got the girls in high school…” said Barkley.
I happen to be on the opposite end of the spectrum when it comes to believing if analytics work.
My beliefs directly correlate with Olbermann host and ESPN writer Keith Olbermann, who stated, “Analytics not only won in the NBA, MLB, and NFL, analytics won so fast that the dinosaurs like Chuck don’t even realize the war is over and the asteroid has darkened in their sky…”
Analytics have become the forefront of sports today, whether Barkley wants to believe so or not. As technology advances and numbers become evermore important, analytics are vital to teams winning championships.
Just this past season in football the NFL introduced what is known as, “Next Gen Stats.” The program’s goal is to provide teams with access to data that monitors players’ health, workload, and conditioning during games and practices. Such analytics are already used in the NFL Draft Combine, where collegiate players are measured by their performance in tests like the 40-yard dash and vertical jump.
Sorry Barkley, but it’s not the 1990s anymore. The teams who win the most championships are run by the so-called “nerds” whether you want to believe it or not. In this day and age, you can’t discount the importance of looking deeply into a box score.
In case Barkley was wondering, his assessment of the Rockets isn’t as accurate as he might think. Despite Barkley giving them the label of “worst in the league,” they actually rank No.16 out of 30 in the NBA. You might want to double check your evaluation with some analytics, Barkley.