A Sign of Sports Math’s Popularity

by Roland Minton on February 8, 2017

J.K. Rowling would not be impressed, but Roland Minton was pleased with the throng clamoring for an autographed copy of his new book Sports Math. True, there was only one person in line, but he was very enthusiastic.

Sports Math is a textbook for a course in sports science or sports analytics, such as the May term course “The Science of Sports” at Roanoke College. Three chapters explore the physics of sports, two chapters introduce mathematical rating systems, and four chapters look at sports analytics and the emergence of Big Data in sports. The remaining chapter does some “mythbusting” on classic issues like keeping your eye on the ball, officials making bad calls, and the complicated motion of a tennis serve.

The autograph seeker in the picture above is Stan Rothman, a noted sports statistics author (his book Sandlot Stats on baseball statistics is excellent). As a teacher of sports science courses for 40+ years (!) he was interested in the new book in the field. Much to his surprise, the book popped open to a page featuring some of Rothman’s own work! So he got the book, started a nice conversation, and got a signature. The young bystander in the picture is Minton’s son, who seems amused by the spontaneous meeting of the society of old sports authors. This took place in Atlanta at a sports math session at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January.

Sports Math has numerous pictures, most of which were taken by the author, including the cover picture of Roger Federer at Wimbledon. Many of the pictures feature Roanoke College students. Action shots of basketball players Joey Miller and Julian Ramirez and softball pitcher Kelly Higbie illustrate some of the stories told in the book. Get the book and find out why Kelly would have struck out Barry Bonds if he had batted against her!

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