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What’s fun about sports statistics?

What’s fun about sports statistics?

I’ve got a friend back in Ames who loves statistics. Not how a mathematician loves statistics, but how a sports junkie loves them. He’s a guy who will tweet some of the most bizarre and absurd statistics that make you think, ‘How the heck did he find that?’ Yesterday, he graced us with this one: “Speaking of #BackToTheFuture, the date Marty and Doc were returning to (the 1985 date), the Iowa Hawkeyes were the #1 FB team in the nation.”

How about that?

For background, yesterday was the day in which Marty McFly teleports to the future from 1985 in the movie “Back to the Future II.” In one scene, it shows that the Cubs have won the World Series, giving this year’s MLB playoffs a little bit more spice. Could it be at all possible that a movie in 1989 predicted the future?

Now, finding out the Hawkeyes were the No. 1 team in the nation when McFly returns to 1985 is not anything short of a Google search. Or maybe you knew that from some old bar trivia 10 years ago.

But for me, someone who was born four years after the release of Back to the Future II, I can’t say I would have ever thought twice about looking into other sport headlines in 1985. But it did, so let me share some of them with you: – Villanova defeats Georgetown in one of the biggest upsets in NCAA Tournament history, 66-64.

– The Kansas City Royals take home their one and only World Series title against the St. Louis Cardinals in four games.

– Oklahoma goes on to finish 11-1-0 as the college football national champions. The Hawkeyes would finish with a 45-28 loss to UCLA in the 1986 Rose Bowl.

Iowa was the No. 1 team in the country for one month, until a loss to Ohio State, 22-13, knocked Iowa back to No. 6. Iowa still earned a Big 10 title that year.

Managers and coaches see it, too. They aren’t biased to their team because of just “heart, soul and passion.”

Kevin Kelley, the head coach at Pulaski Academy in Arkansas, never punts on fourth down —ever.

Not even when it’s 4th and 10 on his 20-yard line. Because he’s playing the odds — the statistics. He doesn’t think a team should ever give up a possession.

And he’s been successful.

The Bruins have won two state championships under Kelly.

In 2002, Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane employed a foreign scheme called “Moneyball.” You’ll recognize this from the motion picture they made of the idea (it’s got Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in it. Really good, by the way).

Moneyball is called, and part of the title of the original book the film was made after, an art of winning an unfair game.

In 2002, the A’s took a sabermetric approach to creating a competitive baseball team based around on base percentages, hitting averages and slugging percentages, rather than who can buy the most expensive players.

That approach changed the face of baseball, to an extent. Beane was under much criticism, and has yet to win a World Series, despite having one of the best showings in 2014, but losing in the Wild Card game to the Kansas City Royals.

These “quick hits” as some news organizations call them are fun, easy to find and will absolutely lead you down the road to more interesting facts.

No, they probably won’t help you on your biology exam next week, and they probably won’t get you out of a knife fight in a dark alley. But there’s a lot more to football than just cheering on your favorite team because you attended that school or because you like the team’s colors.

Believe you me, I wish I could pick Iowa State every week in our Pigskin Picks because I got my degree there. Heck, I picked them last week to upset No. 2 TCU, and if football was only two quarters long, I wouldn’t have been far off.

But I’ve looked at the numbers and I’ve researched the teams. I’m a more educated sports fan because of it. These numbers and ideas are interesting and can make a huge difference when it comes to writing about teams or trying to figure out who you should play for fantasy football.

Statistics, by and large, are an imperative part of our modern day sports, not just to the number pushers in New York skyscrapers.

Stephen Koenigsfeld

Sports Editor

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