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Fri, Feb 26, 2021

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM PST (GMT-8)

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Paul Sabin
Senior Sports Analytics Specialist @ESPN

Sports analytics is a growing field with an increasing number of positions available within teams, media companies, data providers, and now sports gambling firms. More and more academic research is being done than ever before thanks to a growing acceptance of graduate work in sports and journals such as the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports (JQAS). Working for a Sports media company such as ESPN presents its own challenges not seen elsewhere in the sports research by having to not only explain advanced statistical methods to other business people but also on-air talent who then has to relay the concepts to millions of casual sports fans in just a few seconds. I will walk through some struggles in this with a personal example and lessons learned in the communication of sports analytics research to the casual sports fan. I will also talk about some of the proprietary ESPN metrics commonly seen on-air and the basic statistical methodology behind each.

Paul Sabin is a senior sports analytics specialist for ESPN. He received a Bachelor of Science in statistical science and French from Brigham Young University, a Master of Science in statistics from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in statistics from Virginia Tech where his dissertation focused on multiscale dynamic state-space models in supply chains under Dr. David Higdon. At ESPN he has worked on sports analytics projects in the NBA, the NFL, college football, college basketball, and fantasy soccer. Among these, he was primarily responsible for several ESPN proprietary metrics including the college Basketball Power Index (BPI), the Allstate Playoff Predictor, the NBA Draft model, the CFB PlayStation Player Impact Rating, and ESPN’s fantasy soccer projections. Sabin has written for and as well as contributing to ESPN’s business by using statistical methods to inform programming decisions. Paul is a fan of most Washington D.C. professional sports teams, BYU collegiate teams, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

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