Tuesday, November 10, 2009

All-Americas By The Numbers

Sarah Cummings was the "3" in Princeton's history-making 1-2-3-4-5 sweep at the women's Ivy League Heptagonal cross country meet last month. As the Tigers look ahead to the NCAA regionals and ultimately the NCAA championship meet, Cummings will be providing key points for her team, currently ranked fourth nationally.

And none of that is what Cummings wanted to talk to TigerBlog about. Instead, Cummings (a junior from Newport Beach, Calif.) emailed looking for information about All-Americas at Princeton for the last four years. As an aside, she herself was one, having earned All-America honors in the 10,000 meter run outdoors last year.

As another aside, the proper term to describe an athlete who earns this designation is "All-America." An "All-American" can only be used to describe someone from an intangible quality, as in "the All-American boy."

Anyway, Cummings needed the information for a paper for an economic sociology class. Specifically, she was interested in the breakdown by sport and gender for the last four years.

Cummings' request got TigerBlog guessing as to what he would learn. Before totaling it all up, TB figured that there'd be more women All-Americas than men, that squash would have the most and that fewer than half of the sports would have at least one All-America.

For purposes of clarification, the numbers reflect total number of designations, whether first-team, second-team, honorable mention, etc., won by Princeton athletes. To that end, an athlete like swimmer Alicia Aemisegger counts once per year, not once total.

TigerBlog then went back four years and found out that in that time, Princeton had 150 All-America designations, an average of 37.5 per year. And he was sort of right: women had 76, while men had 74.

For the women, there were three sports that produced at least 10: rowing (15), lacrosse (13) and squash (13). In all, 13 of the 18 women's teams produced an All-America, and had TigerBlog gone back one more year, a 14th would have as well.

On the men's side, only two teams reached double figures, but they were far and away the highest of any Princeton's teams. The two? Squash and lacrosse, both with 22. Ten of the 20 men's teams had at least one All-America.

Add it up, and 23 of 38 Princeton teams (61%) produced at least one All-America in the last four years. Not bad.

Of course, some teams have smaller national pools to draw from and therefore have a better chance of having All-Americas selected. The opposite makes it harder for sports like basketball and soccer to do so.

Still, for a non-scholarship Division I school with such high academic standards to produce nearly 40 All-Americas per year across such a wide variety of sports is impressive.

And, with that project behind him, TigerBlog is now available for other research projects. Anyone need help in molecular biology? Mechanical engineering?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since four years is an athlete's career (in the Ivy League at least; Nate Walton a rare exception), it would be interesting to go back ten years.

This would provide a more revealing indicator for the various sports. For instance, as you note, Alicia Amersigger (sp?) counts three times, and one assume squash player El Halaby would have been counted four times. Their excellence impacts upon the numbers in their respective sports.

A ten year stretch would be interesting-- esp. since some sports do experience a real swing once one (or more) All-America athletes depart.