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The Top of the Standings

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Comparing Teams Across Different Leagues

I was listening to Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN yesterday and they were discussing the legacy of North Carolina Tar Heel Tyler Hansborough.

Te topic raged on whether or not Psycho T deserved to be listed among the all time greatest Tar Heels.

Despite being the ACC, and consequently UNC, all time leader in points and rebounds, Golic was arguing that he doesn’t deserve to be listed in the same breath as Jordan an some of the others who have donned on Carolina blue. His whole argument is that stats do not make the player and there are more important things that contribute to the greatness of someone’s legacy than just what is listed in a box score.

He brought up the fact that Emmitt Smith holds the record for most rushing yards in the history of the NFL, but nobody would consider him the greatest RB of all time. He also spoke about Brett Favre and how he has thrown for more yards and touchdowns than any NFL QB, but Golic would consider Joe Montana to be the greatest QB the NFL has ever seen.

This is a great argument for rec athletes. Generally during rec games stats, such as yards and points are not kept. Sometimes they are kept individually, sometimes a team will compound stats over a season or the life of the team, and sometime a league will keep stats. I will bet though, that you cannot find anywhere, be it on the web or someplace else, a place where re stats are debated across different leagues, and even less so across different leagues in different cities, states or regions.

So then, how can a rec athlete be compared to their peers? The answer would be in wins, losses and championships.

If you talk to your friend who plays in a softball leagues 3 states over, you will probably ask one of two questions:
1) Who are you playing?
2) What is your record?

The guy can throw out all the stats in the world about how many HRs he has hit, or what his batting average is, but in reality, it is impossible to compare your league to his based on those numbers. For starters, his home run fence may be 50 feet closer than yours. His league may not use flight restricted balls. His league may not have a cap on the number of home runs a player or team can hit. All those factors contribute to stats that cannot be compared to each other.

What can be compared, though, is wins, losses and championship. It may be true that his home run fence is closer than yours, and balls that are brought in by outfielders in your league would go yard in his league. But it isn’t true that his fence is 50 feet closer than that of the team he is playing against. Within a league, all the rules are the same. So these disproportions can be mitigated by looking at how your friend has contributed to his team’s success vs how you have done.

So when you guys are talking and he is bragging about how he hits home runs whenever he feels the urge, yet his team is 1-10, you can feel good that while you haven’t actually hit one over the fence, your contributions have helped your team to vault into first place in your league.

So to answer Mike and Mike’s debate, from a rec athlete point of view, you need to look past the stats you can read about in box scores, and look at what contributions you, or whomever you are debating about, has made to the team.

Keep sporting!
- Who's In First

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