JSM 2011 review / Miami in August!

I don’t know how many of you have ever been to Miami Beach in August, but it’s not exactly…..comfortable.  But that’s where my quest for knowledge took me in the first week of August to the Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM) 2011.

I attended a really interesting session “Statistical Analyses of Judging in Athletic Competitions: The Role of Human Nature.  I missed the first talk about racial bias in Major League Baseball (MLB) umpires, but I caught the last three, which were all very interesting.  John Emerson, who organized the session, presented “Statistical Sleuthing by Leveraging Human Nature: A Study of Olympic Figure Skating”.  Ryan Rodenburg (Blog: Sports Law Analytics) presented his paper “Perception ≠ Reality: Analyzing Specific Allegations of NBA Referee Bias”. His approach was rather interesting.  Rather than try to look for overall biases in NBA referees, he attempted to validate or invalidate specific allegations levelled against specific referees.  His talk was followed by Kurt Rothoff who presented his paper “Bias in Sequential Order Judging: Primacy, Recency, Sequential Bias, and Difficulty Bias”, which focused on judging in gymnastics.  One of the key findings of this work was, from his abstract, “Contestants who attempt higher difficulty increase their execution score, even when difficulty and execution scores are judged separately.”  This makes me a little bit nervous because the better athletes are attempting the more difficult routines and, since they are better athletes, may receive higher execution scores because they are better athletes to begin with.  Is there anyone out there who has ever been a competitive gymnast who has any thoughts on this?


Posted on August 15, 2011, in JSM. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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