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.”
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."
“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.”
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.