Friday, August 24, 2012

Analysing Olympic Medal Data

So, the London Olympics are over - with the Paralympics still to come, of course. Sports, and events such as the Olympic Games, generate lots of lovely data. It's also usually "hard" data. So, there's a cottage industry out there comprised of statisticians of all shapes and forms who love to work sports data.

The American Statistical Association has a Section for Statistics in Sport, publishes the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, and provides access to some interesting sports data-sets.

A few years ago a undergrad. student, Glen Roberts, who took one of my grad. econometrics courses, wrote a really nice term paper that analysed some aspects of medal counts at the Athens Summer Olympic Games. You can download it from here.

To attract your interest, here's Glen's abstract:
"We model summer Olympic medal counts using count data analysis. The advantage of this methodology is its explicit recognition of the discrete non-negative form of the dependent variable; i.e. the total number of medals won by a nation in a summer Olympiad. Using data from the most recent 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Poisson and negative binomial count data regression models are constructed. The chosen model is negative binomial and attaches statistical significance to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, the age dependency ratio, and a relatively cold climate. In contrast to previous studies, population, health expenditure per capita, and the effect of being a host or neighbour nation of an Olympiad are all insignificant in explaining medal counts. We also find no “cricket effect” or “rugby effect.”"
It would be nice to see Glen's study updated to incorporate the latest data.

© 2012, David E. Giles

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