Olympinomics

With the Winter Olympics starting up with the opening ceremony tonight, I wanted to announce that I will be blogging about the games over at the Olympics-Reference Blog. My first post (below) is up, and I will start posting analysis next week.

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If you’re like me, you like the Winter Olympics; not because you know much about the sports or participants, but because it’s fun to watch people play around in the snow. And while I enjoy sitting down front of the TV to watch whatever NBC decides to show me, just staring at screen and cheering for the athlete with the saddest side-story doesn’t feel right. For years I’ve been watching baseball through an analytical lens, trying to better understand the factors that matter most. I’ve blogged about it extensively at Sabernomics.com, my book The Baseball Economist was published three years ago, and my latest book Hot Stove Economics will be published this coming fall.

Well, it’s time for a little more in-depth analysis of the winter games, and thanks to Olympics-Reference this is possible. When Sean Forman rolled out the site I happened to be working on a project investigating how baseball players age, so I was familiar with how researchers had been using Olympics data to analyze aging patterns. The academic literature contained several interesting studies of Olympic sports that examined how athletes aged, but most of the analysis has concentrated on summer sports. I saw Olympics-Reference provided a fruitful data source for analysis of winter events.

Winter sports pose a new challenge, because almost every sport requires tools like skis, skates, sleds, and even guns. So, I decided to take on a project that looked at aging in winter sports. How does aging differ across sports? How has it changed over time? How does aging differ by gender? These are some of the questions that I have been examining, and I thought it would be a good idea to blog about some of my findings while the winter games were going on.

So, starting Monday, I’ll be blogging here about the Winter Olympics. If you’re familiar with the games in a way that I am not—I’ve lived most of my life in the South, so I’m not all that familiar with winter sports—feel free to chime in. I see some puzzles in the data that are ripe for examination.

2 Responses “Olympinomics”

  1. Shek says:

    JC,
    Looking forward to see what sports you’ll be profiling (curling?). While you’ll be looking at the Winter Olympics, I’d imagine that the Summer Olympics would be very ripe in looking for potential anamolies from PEDs from the Eastern bloc nations, although it’d be tough to separate out the PED effect from the national prioriaization/culling/training effect given that both probably declined post-Cold War and correlation vs. causation, but it’d be fun for speculation nonetheless. Also, the case of Dara Torres from the 2008 games is an example of peak performance from someone far beyond the expected peak age without the aid of PEDs and would be Exhibit A in support of Barry Bonds’ feats.

  2. Bill says:

    I hate the Olympics so much, winter or summer. I would rather see reruns of the office.