Is February a Sports Data Wasteland?

by Glenn J. Thomas

With the passing of Super Bowl XLVI into the record books (Congratulations to the New York Giants in their win over the New England Patriots, 21-17) and discussions about the ads limited since most have been leaked on the web over the past few weeks, we enter a period of seemingly endless duration for those self-made human sports data machines; the fantasy football league participants. You know the individuals of whom I speak. They gather every couple of days to discuss their fantasy team and the incredible play of the running back, the passing statistics of their unequaled quarterback and how they would have had the top team in the league if their star wide receiver had not let *that* pass slip through his usual ‘catch anything’ fingers.  These are the individuals that can sometimes sit within a meeting unable to comprehend the need for gathering certain numbers at the organizational level to verify the validity of some initiative but can spew forth an endless stream of stats on every professional football player over the course of the last five to ten years.

These poor individuals now face the dreaded February sports data wasteland seemingly much larger than that endured by Mad Max beyond Aunty Entity’s Thunderdome. A small flicker of hope keeps them going when they glance at the calendar and count and recount the remaining days of the month. The NCAA men’s basketball March Madness bracket floats out there just beyond their reach.

To fill the long weeks until the near gladiatorial elimination process of college hoops, these sports data junkies will search the farthest reaches of the internet looking for some data elements worthy of storage within their episodic or emotional long-term memory for discussion with their pack of peers. I offer here some possible solutions to their sports data quandary.

There are those that will semi-reluctantly move to fantasy play in the NBA but this season’s lockout and declining interest will have many looking for something more interesting to do with their time. Besides, with the top players earning more than $10 million in salary alone, most data crunchers may choose to watch their unpaid college brethren fight their way into the bracket. Who doesn’t like a good underdog story like the Murray State University Racers remaining the only undefeated team (23-0, 11-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference)?

Major League Baseball will no doubt also see an uptick in the number of fantasy players. The season is young enough to make up any ground lost by starting late. Others will gravitate to NASCAR for their data excitement.

On polar opposite ends of the sports universe, there is fantasy hockey and fantasy golf. (Congratulations to team Ryan Ballengee at the top of the golf leaderboard with winnings as of this posting of $2,249,381.)

Although I could not find a fantasy league for curling, the USCA is sponsoring a raffle of assorted sports memorabilia that will be drawn the end of February, so you may want to check that out as a possible point of interest. There’s also a World Wrestling Entertainment fantasy league – but many might say that’s a bit of an oxymoron…

Whatever sport they decide to support to fill their lonely hours, I hope you, as their co-worker, will be understanding in their coming weeks of need.

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Glenn Thomas

Glenn has more than 20 years of experience as a programmer, analyst, and project manager on systems development projects and research missions around the globe. The past 10 years have been spent serving in a variety of leadership roles in the application development, data and enterprise policy and standards arenas. His background includes time spent in the US military, private industry, and the public sector. Glenn is a Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP – DIQ), a Certified Public Manager (CPM), and a Project Management Professional (PMP). Glenn was the recipient of the 2009 DAMA International Government Achievement Award and is a former President and VP of Communications for the Project Management Institute’s Kentucky Bluegrass Chapter. 

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