And yet sometimes they don’t. But of certain, there’s at least an appreciation from fans for those who document them. Even to the non-viewer, sports statisticians leave behind the gift of tiny information nuggets—enjoyed and easily digestible to fans in their depiction of events occurred. Thus, without even having watched a sporting event, stats provide a data-driven synopsis of events that 1) contribute to our understanding of the sport by breaking down larger events into smaller ones; 2) inspire a meaningful, analytical reflectiveness from fans and professionals; and 3) evoke an emotional response via our own imaginations (i.e. I see a home run and I’m thrilled; I read a home run and I’m still happy).
We use stats to shape our own sports narratives—sometimes with very little actual viewing (though good luck getting someone to admit this). It’s how sports radio exists. Just pull up a box score! From an analytic perspective, stats are telling us more and more in their evolving complexity. If you’ve read a single paragraph about baseball in the last decade, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Even in professional golf, each individual golf stroke can be compared to a baseline of historic data to tell you the amount of “strokes gained” (or lost) in that particular shot. It puts a number to the usual “eye test” commentary that we’ve grown accustomed to (e.g. “that’s an average shot from that distance”).
And then there is wrestling—somehow remaining unaffected by this stats revolution and existing within the dark ages of sport. Want to know how many takedowns Jason Nolf had in 2016 when he was mauling opponents with brutal catch-and-release tactics? Good luck with that. Even the most basic of stats, we have to hope that their particular program documents it. Currently there is no outside source to my knowledge that is recording the statistical details of a match or season. And as such, we know he’s elite but we don’t have the data (other than wins and losses) to compare with the greatest collegiate wrestlers in history. We don’t have a general idea of what constitutes as an elite amount of takedowns for a season. There is no 50-HR marker; no 300 strikeout milestone.
But even Brent Metcalf knows that stats matter. When Brent Metcalf famously stated that Lance Palmer was “content to lose by 3” in the 2009 NCAA championship semifinal with Brent, it wasn’t a social commentary on the current state of mathematics and education in this country (6-2 = 4, Brent!)1, but rather he was expressing a frustration that the score didn’t reflect his dominance. Point differential—unlike the NCWA championship duals—matters! Brent was just ahead of his time, and we shouldn’t have been so quick mock him when he not so contently lost by five to Darrion Caldwell in the legendary upset final the next day.
The purpose of this blog is to introduce some fun stats to the wrestling world. Nothing advanced at the moment, and hardly anything cumulative due to viewer constraints, but let’s go-ahead and explore these opportunities. Wrestlestat.com already has already opened that door by documenting extensive win/loss data for D1 wrestlers, and we should take it even further now. The goal here is to contribute some statistical nuggets that emerge from the 2017-2018 wrestling season. Some will be straight forward. Some might be operationally defined (think Pro Football Focus). As this blog unfolds, I would love your feedback on whether you believe they hold any value to our wrestling community. Flame away!
According to The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the USA ranked ranked 38th out of 71 countries in Math performance among 15-year olds. We should also note that most Hawkeyes and their fans can’t count past TWOOOOO