SBD/January 28, 2014/People and Pop Culture

ESPN's Nate Silver Talks About Using Statistics To Cover Sports In "Colbert" Interview

Silver says he likes to be "overly serious" about fun topics such as sports
ESPN's NATE SILVER appeared on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" last night, and host Stephen Colbert asked about Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog, saying, "Why FiveThirtyEight when you're going to ESPN? Is that how many ESPNs there are now, 538 of them? Why are you going to sports again?" Silver: "We love sports. It's a great way to teach people about math and statistics, but mostly it's a lot of fun and we're sports fans. Put it like this: there is a lot of coverage you see in politics that's really just gossip about a serious subject, and we want to take a fun subject and be overly serious about it at times." Colbert asked, "Can you be too serious about football in America, because what happens if we weren't holding the game this weekend? What happens if we didn't find out about which animal was going to be used to sell which beer?" Silver: "It's like reality TV for men, basically. But it's a big cultural thing." When asked if he could apply the statistical model he uses in baseball to the Super Bowl, Silver said, "The problem with this game this year is that both teams are really good." Colbert interjected and said, "What are the odds!? You're the statistician!" Silver added of the Super Bowl, "You would think it’s going to be close." Colbert asked, "Why do you want to do to football what you did to politics, which is to ruin it with accuracy? If you get as good with football as what you are with politics, then it won't be like on any given Sunday a team could win. You'll just read FiveThirtyEight and go, 'Oh, it's going to be Seattle, let's go to bed.'" Silver: "I think the world actually is a pretty unpredictable place, including in sports" ("The Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 1/27).
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