Title

Why Infer? The Use and Misuse of Population Data in Sport Research

Keywords

inferential statistics, methodology, Relative Age Effect

Abstract

While the use of inferential statistics is a nearly universal practice in the social sciences, there are instances where its application is unnecessary or, worse, misleading. This is true for most research on the Relative Age Effect (RAE) in sports. Given the limited amount of data needed to examine RAE (birth dates) and the availability of complete team rosters, RAE researchers are in a unique position—inference is not needed when interpreting findings because the data is from a population. We reveal, over the course of five years, the misapplication of inferential statistics using census data in 10 of 13 RAE studies across 12 sports journals. Thus, perhaps by inertia, the majority of RAE researchers use inferential statistics with their census data, misusing analytic techniques and, in some cases, undervaluing meaningful patterns and trends.

Original Publication Citation

Gibbs, Benjamin G., Kevin Shafer, and Mikaela Dufur. “Why Infer? The Use and Misuse of Population Data in Sports Research” International Review of Sociology of Sport 50:115-121.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2012-12-31

Publisher

International Review for the Sociology of Sport

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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