cover of book

The Hidden Game of Football: A Revolutionary Approach to the Game and Its Statistics
by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer and John Thorn
foreword by Aaron Schatz
University of Chicago Press, 2023
Paper: 978-0-226-82586-1 | eISBN: 978-0-226-82587-8
Library of Congress Classification GV951.C48 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 796.3320973

The 1988 cult classic behind football’s data analytics revolution, now back in print with a new foreword and preface.

Data analytics have revolutionized football. With play sheets informed by advanced statistical analysis, today’s coaches pass more, kick less, and go for more two-point or fourth-down conversions than ever before. In 1988, sportswriters Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer, and John Thorn proposed just this style of play in The Hidden Game of Football, but at the time baffled readers scoffed at such a heartless approach to the game. Football was the ultimate team sport and unlike baseball could not be reduced to pure probabilities. Nevertheless, the book developed a cult following among analysts who, inspired by its unorthodox methods, went on to develop the core metrics of football analytics used today: win probability, expected points, QBR, and more. With a new preface by Thorn and Palmer and a new foreword by Football Outsiders’s Aaron Schatz, The Hidden Game of Football remains an essential resource for armchair coaches, fantasy managers, and fans of all stripes.

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