Secrets from the Data Cave: January 2014
by Sarah McCruden
Welcome to CRC’s monthly series of articles on all things techie: Secrets from the Data Cave! (For those who don’t know, the title references our room — fondly referred to as “the bat cave”— where data staff can geek out in an isolated setting.) Here we’ll be offering you a fascinating sneak peek into the cave, with the latest updates & tips on what we’re implementing here at CRC!
January 2014: Using Data to Convince Your Friends You Are Psychic on Super Bowl Sunday
Here we are in 2014, with February already nearly upon us, and as Super Bowl Sunday draws closer, I hear more and more people making predictions about who will win it all this year. Whether your team wins or loses (or didn’t make the playoffs), you can still come out on top by convincing your friends that you are psychic due to your uncanny ability to predict Super Bowl winners—and all you need to do it is a little data.
Now, full disclosure here: I know little about the game itself, and mostly show up to Super Bowl parties for the nachos, so I’m not accounting for the teams’ actual performance this year.
- However, by using a single indicator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (as reported in a study by RiseSmart1), odds are that I could still accurately predict the winner. It has been found that the team with the lower unemployment rate won 20/25 of the last Super Bowls, making it a predictor with an 80% success rate for every Super Bowl since 1989.2
A low unemployment rate reflects the economic wellbeing of the team’s city, and the CEO of RiseSmart has speculated that “One could argue that a fan base with higher unemployment is more likely to have expendable income to attend games, buy team merchandise, and cheer their team on at sports bars and restaurants. Maybe that addition fan support gives their team an edge that ultimately drives them to Super Bowl victory.”2
I’m not so sure about that theory, since the unemployment rate entire city is not necessarily representative of the unemployment rate among the actual football fans for that city (as opposed to those who only care about the nachos). But no matter the reason for the apparent relationship between low unemployment and Super Bowl victory, you can still use data to look like you are psychic, and that is pretty awesome.
Check out the data summary here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/seattles-12th-man-will-make-the-difference-in-super-bowl-xlviii-based-on-a-surprising-predictor-of-big-game-success-241307221.html and enjoy the game!