Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bleg: Know any good referee studies?

I've been invited to this year's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, to participate in the "Referee Analytics" panel. I guess if I'm going to be talking about refereeing, I should try to get up to date on some of the research that's been going on.

So, a bleg: could you guys refer me, either in the comments or online, to what you think is important research on refereeing/umpiring in any sport? Much appreciated.

Oh, and speaking of umpiring ... a couple of years back, I had a nine-post analysis of the study about umpires and racial discrimination. Recently, I distilled those posts into an article that ran in the Fall, 2010 issue of SABR's "Baseball Research Journal."

Here's a .PDF of that article. I recommend it over my original posts ... back then, I was trying to figure it out as I was going along. This article is a distillation of the analysis, and what I actually concluded. (If you do want the original posts, they're linked at my website.)

And, by the way, SABR has an archive of past BRJ articles. It's a pretty good resource. There's at least one Bill James piece, for instance.

Labels: , ,


At Saturday, February 12, 2011 1:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees by Joseph Price and Justin Wolfers was the subject of a lot of attention a couple of years ago.

At Saturday, February 12, 2011 9:16:00 AM, Anonymous Ryan J. Parker said...

That Wolfers study is the one that comes to my mind as well. I looked at NBA refs once, but it was very poor(!), so don't go reading that.

So although I can't add anything to help you here, I look forward to seeing you in Boston!

At Saturday, February 12, 2011 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Thanks, anon and Ryan. I remember blogging that one, I'll re-read it.

At Saturday, February 12, 2011 8:23:00 PM, Blogger Erik Jensen said...

Ryan Boyko of Harvard published an analysis of home field soccer referee bias. Alexander Kranjec published an analysis of left versus right moving bias in soccer officiating.

At Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Thanks, Erik, I'll look those up.

At Sunday, February 13, 2011 1:22:00 AM, Blogger Steve said...

A guest blogger on Freakonomics wrote about home-field advantage being based on referee bias. They mention a natural experiment where crowds weren't allowed to attend games in Italy and home-field advantage disappeared as did ref bias (not sure how it's measured in soccer). They also mention a study based on pitchFX of how refs tend to call balls as strikes and strikes as balls more often to benefit the home team. I don't know who did the original studies but it might mention it there.

At Sunday, February 13, 2011 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soccer by the numbers Has a study of home/away fouls in English Premier Soccer League. Also see Soccer by the Numbers referees.
He also has a post on cards home vs away at
Yellow cards
German Soccer is the abstract for a major study of the German Soccer league.
There seems to be a difference between the English and German Leagues based on comparing the abstract and the soccer by the numbers data.

At Sunday, February 13, 2011 5:22:00 PM, Blogger John Walsh said...


I performed a (non-academic) study of umpire bias on calling balls and strikes that appears in this year's THT Annual.


-John Walsh

At Wednesday, February 16, 2011 9:34:00 AM, Blogger Mike Fast said...

I summarized and linked to a lot of the existing research on umpire strike zones and gave my viewpoint here:

At Wednesday, February 16, 2011 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

Wow, Mike. That is awesome stuff.


Post a Comment

<< Home