Posts Tagged: Sports



Can Transit Learn From Wade Boggs?

Professional sports and public transit are two very different things, I admit that.

But contemplate, for a second, the amount of statistical scrutiny we give to the athletic diversions in our lives and how much we attention we pay to the statistics of public transportation.

Now contemplate the robustness of the statistics gathered (and are available) for professional sports – how do they measure up against public transportation statistics?

How is it we have more information about this man than we do about most of our public transit systems?

Some people may find this observation entirely glib, but it’s not. I’m being serious here.

How is it that we can simply and easily access numbers for arcane matters like how many times Wade Boggs was intentionally walked in the 1986 Major League Baseball post season (the answer is once, by the way), but newspapers have to file government appeals in order to ascertain how many suicides occur every year on the Toronto Transit Commission?

Consider that observation in light of this:

The current annual operating budget of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is roughly $13 billion US. The combined annual payroll of all 30 Major League Baseball teams, meanwhile, is a little bit less than $3 billion.

Is this not absurd?

Does it really make sense that the general public has a greater number of and greater access to rigorous statistical tools of measurement for baseball than public transit despite a) the public transit industry being infinitely larger than the professional baseball industry and; b) public transit having an infinitely greater impact on our lives than baseball could ever hope to?

I’m sure there are dozens of good reasons this disparity exists. The first that pops to mind is the fact that baseball statistics have been gathered for decades by a dedicated and interested fan base who see this activity as pleasurable and interesting – it’s a hobby aligned with their interest in a game. Public transit likely doesn’t have the necessary fandom to instigate such a casual interest in statistical arcana.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel that if a swarm of baseball fans can gather all this information and disseminate it – including during times before the internet – without the help of Major League Baseball, then the same thing can (and should) be done with transit statistics.

Isn’t this something that needs to be remedied?

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