Sports Analytics & Storytelling: We need both

Dan Hamilton
2 min readJun 9, 2023

The pantheon of interweaving data-based evidence and sports journalism starts and ends with Zach Lowe. Period. This is his latest article previewing game 3 of the NBA Finals.

He will likely drop another article today but as I’m writing this its the most recent one. One day I will drop a love bomb article Zach Lowe’s way but for today I’d like to concentrate on an article that was more on the empty side and talks about my newest sports love Soccer.

Here is the article:

The problem with this article is the extent of the entire analysis comes down to this one paragraph:

The difference is that Messi is also a world-class attacking midfielder,” he said. “The chances he creates for his teammates are an order of magnitude greater than Ronaldo. Messi does two jobs brilliantly. Ronaldo does one job brilliantly. That’s the difference.

If you read the article it barely shows any statistical evidence to back up these claims (claims that I wholeheartedly agree with) from a theoretical physicist and simply goes on to list some hot takes this statistician had while working with Manchester United.

Adding analytics to sports is to add evidence to the decision-making process and not just rely on the “Eye Test” or the Gut. I encourage you to read this article because I actually don’t even have an example of any statistical evidence he used to come to the decision of Messi > Ronaldo in this entire article. Despite that obviously being the correct decision. In order to continue to bring analytics and evidenced-based decision-making to the masses we need to do better than this article. And one day you will get the ultimate Zach Lowe love bomb we all need.