Derby’s Money Problem: Is Roller Derby Entertaining? – Part 2.2

There are few things in data analytics that is more exciting than having one of your theories getting proven wrong by data.  Well I can tell you that this D1 project has done just that.  I have used the data of 67 of the 68 D1 Playoff bouts (Angel City vs Bay Area was not available for some reason) and I went in with the theory that bouts featuring teams ranked more than 20 spots apart were really going to drive the data screwy and would eventually lead to my recommendation that WFTDA change up the Playoff format and just go with 20 team super weekend playoffs.  It would have replaced the current set up and the need for Champs.  But after reviewing the data, I think an even bigger swing at change needs to be made.  After all, of the 68 D1 bouts, only 8 featured teams ranked more than 20 spots apart (11.8%).  Here is how the data of those 8 bouts came out.

Last Lead Change:
Mean – 1
Median – 1
Standard Deviation – 0

Last Jam with Lead below 25 Points:
Mean – 3
Median – 3
Standard Deviation – 0.76

Last Jam with Lead below 50 Points:
Mean – 6
Median – 5.5
Standard Deviation – 1.41

Total Jams:
Mean – 38.13
Median – 37.5
Standard Deviation – 5.28

As you can see, there really is no reason for these bouts to be played.  None of these bouts were even remotely close and in fact were all such large blowouts.  Now this information should not come as a surprise to anyone, but I think the next two sections will a little bit.

In this sections I will focus on all bouts that featured teams ranked more than 10 spots apart in the WFTDA rankings at the time of these bouts.  In all there were 27 of the 68 bouts that featured teams that met this criteria, or 39.7% of all the D1 bouts.  That data here, was shocking.

Last Lead Change:
Mean – 5.85
Median – 1
Standard Deviation – 11.87

Last Jam with Lead below 25 Points:
Mean – 13.26
Median – 8
Standard Deviation – 14.88

Last Jam with Lead below 50 Points:
Mean – 18.52
Median – 14
Standard Deviation – 16.17

Total Jams:
Mean – 43.56
Median – 44
Standard Deviation – 5.85

In these nearly 40% of the bouts, the Median Jam in the final lead change took place was still the first jam.  In fact, 21 of these 27 bouts saw their last lead change occur in the first 3 jams of the bout.  Remember I am looking at this from a casual fan perspective and if that would be entertaining to me.  I would have to say no.  I need a bit more excitement than that.  Also consider that that only 6 of these 27 bouts in this sample saw the score margin get below 25 in the second half of their bouts.  The whole point of a playoffs is to sort out the best teams and rank them accordingly, the current format does that, but are all the bouts necessary?  Would a casual fan want to keep coming back to a playoffs weekend if they know that this huge percentage of bouts are not only done at halftime, but done within the first 8-10 minutes?

I know at this point some of you are going to be like, “ok, well what is your solution?”  And I openly admit I need to re-evaluate my proposed playoffs format as i was not expecting the data to show me all this.  I definitely would not recommend a playoff featuring teams greater than 20 spots in the rankings, but now Im really thinking do I want to put teams in that are greater than 10.  Just a quick a dirty way to do it would take the rankings as they are and set up 7 playoffs of 10 teams.  D1 = 1-10, D2 = 11-20, etc.  This would result in the same number of weekends for WFTDA, all teams in the Top 70 (it would add 10 additional teams) would know their exact World Rank for the year, and teams would save money by not having to potentially pay for travel to two playoff weekends.  But that is too easy and I would want to tweak it a little, but that is a good starting point.

As a whole the D1 Playoffs were not exciting.  Here is the data for the 67 bouts in which data was available.

Last Lead Change:
Mean – 11.73
Median – 4
Standard Deviation – 14.27

Last Jam with Lead below 25 Points:
Mean – 20.49
Median – 15
Standard Deviation – 16.08

Last Jam with Lead below 50 Points:
Mean – 28.04
Median – 28
Standard Deviation – 15.41

Total Jams:
Mean – 43.85
Median – 44
Standard Deviation – 4.59

So there is some additional D1 data to think about.  I personally feel that there needs to be some changes to make the playoffs more consistently exciting.  How can it be set up to provide exciting bouts more often than not?  Im going to keep plugging along and come up with ideas, again I will never say that I know everything but you never know if an idea can help someone else take it and make a minor change to make it work.  It’s all about the discussion.

I will be out of town for the week so next week’s rankings will be back on Wednesday instead of Monday/Tuesday and then I will be following up with this data from a Champs perspective.


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