Tracking Sports Statistics with Your Computer . December 2000

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Tracking Sports Statistics with Your Computer

By Howard Berenbon

Tracking sports statistics can be a time consuming task.  If you track baseball, basketball, football, horse racing, or other sports statistics using pencil and paper, trying to find trends from your data for predicting winners, then you may want to use a personal computer.  A computer will take the data you are tracking and process it under your direction, to look for trends that can result in accurate sports predictions.  If you're not using a personal computer, you're probably spending long hours collecting the data, and twice as long analyzing it.  With a computer, once you type in the statistics, you can mathematically manipulate it any way you want to, and fast.  Now, it's not as easy as you'd think: turn on the computer, run your database application, and you're there.  Before you can get any useful information from your statistics, you must set up your database, telling it what important conclusions you're looking for from the information entered.

Tracking Statistics Your Own Way

If you are already analyzing your statistics by hand, then you must have some ideas on what information is important and how to manipulate it to formulate an educated guess on the outcome of a sporting event.  So, you should be ready to tackle the computer, and transfer what you have been doing to your computer's memory.   If you're new to sports handicapping and don't have any ideas on manipulating sports statistics, you can use several of the already formulated theories and methods on how to pick the winning team, or the most likely horse to win in a race.  A number of books on sports handicapping describe handicapping and betting strategies.  Pick one or two, and then you decide if what they describe will fit in with what might produce a winning system.  A good source for gambling related books is the Gambler's Book Shop, in Las Vegas.  Call them at 1-800-522-1777 for their free catalog.  They are an excellent source for any and all books on gambling and sports betting.  Also, try Gamblers Bookstore in Reno, phone: 1-800-748-5797 and Gamblers General Store in Las Vegas, phone: 1-800-322-2447.

Choose the Database

Now you must decide what software you will use for your application.  There are several good database packages for tracking statistics and number crunching.

Here's a short list of the best known databases for the IBM PC and compatible computer.  Prices range from $90 to over $500.  If you can find an older version of any of these products,  you'll save money.

Access 2000  from Microsoft Corporation
Lotus Approach from Lotus Developement
Microsoft Office 2000 with Access 2000
Paradox 9
WordPerfect Office Professional with Paradox 9
Visual dBASE from Borland International
Oracle8i Personal Edition from Oracle Corporation

Setting Up a Database

Most of the databases have similar procedures for setting up forms.  First, you must decide what type of data you will enter into your form.  The data in a database is split up into what are called "fields," or types of data you want to track.  You can have any number of fields, usually limited to computer memory size or disk storage space available.  Once you decide the number and type of data fields, you identify each with a label.  Next you decide which fields will be used for calculations, and then assign those as numeric fields.  The fields not used for calculations will be assigned as text fields.   For example, team names and player names would be text fields, and "points for" and "points against" would be numeric.  The numeric fields will be used to do your statistical calculations on the data entered.  Finally, the combination of all fields you have selected to track your data is considered a single record.  For example, if you track individual players, each player's data would be made up of several fields.  And each player on a team would be made up of one record.

As a simple example, a great use for a database would be to track all the NFL professional football teams.  Each team would be a single record in the database made up of several selected numeric and text fields.  You may just want to use the NFL standings data selecting week number, wins, losses, ties, "points for," "points against," home wins, home losses, away wins and away losses.  That's ten numeric fields per team (or record).   An eleventh field may be added for the team name, but that would be a text field.  Once set up, you still have to tell the computer what to do with the data when it is updated each week.

Now you can incorporate your own theories, or theories of others, and decide what criteria is important to analyze.  Then have the computer do the calculations and comparisons, and output the results in a form you can understand, or even pick the winning teams for you.  Each record on the database may be easily compared to other records, and a report can be generated.  For example, you may want to sort the database records on the number of games won.  Next, you may decide to compare the teams that won the most games to their total "points for."  You may conclude that the teams winning the most games, with the highest "points for," are the strongest.  Then look at this week's schedule and compare each team's "points for" with their opponents to try to predict the winners. That's just one of hundreds of comparisons you may want to try.