Youngest-known SAS® University Edition user sets sights on sports analytics career

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Ryan Chase

A soccer enthusiast for most of his 11 years, Ryan Chase loves everything about the game – watching it, playing it, poring over players’ stats, applying his soccer prowess in fantasy leagues. It all started when he was much younger, watching TV games with his dad. Before long, he understood what was happening and was hooked.

“I just love looking out at the field,” said the Holly Springs Elementary fifth grader, a goalkeeper for his Wake Futbol Club team. “I can visualize the game so well.”

Using SAS University Edition to create a science fair project allowed Ryan to see his favorite sport in a whole new way – as a budding data scientist.

With encouragement from his mom, SAS Senior Marketing Director Jennifer Chase, Ryan began by gathering data online. He found World Cup and European Football League data on players, teams and game attendance.

Next, he merged, cleaned and prepped the data for analysis, finally loading it into SAS University Edition (with a little help from mom).

Video tutorials, like this one on creating bar charts in SAS Studio and this one on how to create bar-line charts, helped him display the results of his analyses. He found that the highest World Cup attendance was in 1994, when the US hosted.

But when he looked at which continent had the most attendance over time, Europe “crushed all other continents,” he said. North America was a distant second.

He also analyzed data on players’ home countries, including countries with the most high-scorers and countries with the most goals scored. The biggest surprise? “Colombia,” he said. “They have a lot of big scorers.”

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Making math more interesting

Ryan’s mom enjoyed seeing how the project sparked his imagination and caused him to dig deeper into the data. “When he started looking at countries that win the most, he wondered what would happen if he viewed the data by continent,” she said. “He was able to append the data to add the continents."

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“That’s what I loved about it. He kept asking, ‘What else can I ask of the data? What else can I learn? What if I looked at it this way?’ What was rewarding for me was to see his curiosity grow as he went along.”

She’s thrilled that the project reinforced his interest in math, his favorite school subject. “If we’re going to inspire kids to be more interested in math, we have got to make it interesting,” she said.

Ryan’s interest in math and computers is ingrained. He participated in his school’s Hour of Code event and still talks about it. Now he’s as excited about sports analytics as he was about soccer when the game first captured his attention.

Crunching data for SportsCenter sounds like his ideal job, he said. “I think I’d like to have a career in data analysis – making graphs, looking at standings, predicting what team might win the World Cup.”

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Be like Ryan

Download SAS University Edition for free and lay a foundation for a recession-proof skill set! Free online tutorials make it easy to get up to speed, and helpful fellow users in the SAS Analytics U Community provide great installation and usage tips.

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About Author

Beverly Brown

Principal Social Media Specialist

Beverly helps SAS users help themselves and one another through SAS Support Communities. In 1994, she started out in public relations roles that include managing corporate PR and assisting SAS executives with media interviews and speaking engagements. Before that, she was a reporter at North Carolina’s largest daily newspapers, The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer. She has a husband and son and loves to run, which enables her chocolate habit.

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8 Comments

  1. Chris Hemedinger
    Chris Hemedinger on

    Congratulations to Ryan! It's inspiring to see a middle-school student accomplishing such impressive work -- especially while using SAS.

  2. Deb Orton

    It's great to see that a tool like this can get anyone asking "what if" and dig a little deeper to find out! Way to go Ryan.

  3. Stacey Syphus
    Stacey Syphus on

    Great work, Ryan! Every Friday I teach a mentoring class to 3rd and 5th graders at my kids' school. We collect data on exciting things like favorite pizza or favorite video game using Google Forms, and then I load the data into Enterprise Guide (on my own machine) to graph/analyze it. This story inspired me to see if we can load SAS University Edition on each of the Macs in the computer lab and let the kids do their own graphs. 5th graders could definitely do this!

    • Beverly Brown
      Beverly Brown on

      Stacey, thank you so much for sharing about your mentoring class. I'd love to write about your students' work with University Edition!

    • Jennifer Chase on

      What a great way to inspire your children. There are a lot of great resources on using a Mac with University Edition. The install guide will get you started. And, I found that the video tutorials were very elementary-school age friendly. I’d love to hear about your experience!

  4. Julie Hudson on

    Great article! Choosing career as a sportsman is really a good option. SAS University is doing well by organizing such events and motivating youths towards it. Everyone enjoys playing but unfortunately everyone is not blessed with that fitness. Those who are having it should utilize their fitness for their career. Thanks a lot for adding such a nice blog. Some Amusement companies are there providing a real surrounding of sports environment so that everyone can enjoy themselves.
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