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Wolfram|Alpha Scores Again With Rich NFL Data
So, queries like:
- Tom Brady Joe Flacco Passing Yards
- 49ers 2011
- New York Giants field goal attempts, field goals made
- Chicago Bears Record 1985
- Ray Lewis Tackles
- Detroit Lions vs. Denver Broncos Passing Yards
all return results that often include visual elements like a graph.
Statistical data for every NFL team and every NFL player back to 1985 are available and the number of statistics and the combinations you can create are endless.
What’s available? This page lists all of the categories of stats available. A guide like this is something new for Wolfram|Alpha and I’m very happy to see it. Hopefully, more of these guides are in the works.
Where Is The Data Coming From?
It’s one thing to provide access to statistics, but it’s quite another to make sure they come from a reliable source.
Wolfram has partnered with STATS based in Chicago’s northern suburbs. STATS is the leading provider of sports data. It’s you follow a sport or sports, play in fantasy leagues, or just look at the latest scores, you’ve seen and used their services.
STATS has been around since 1981 and I’ve been watching them grow ever since. The STATS first office was only a few blocks from where I grew up. Currently, the company is owned jointly by the Associated Press and News Corp.
The one caveat (at least for now) is that NFL statistics are NOT real-time or near real-time. In other words, if you’re watching the games on Sunday, the stats accessible via Wolfram|Alpha will not be updated after every completed pass, made field goal, etc. Currently, NFL data is updated weekly.
Hopefully, this will change by next season and real-time data will be available. Also, I would love to see all-time statistics included in the database. For example, all-time NFL rushing leaders, all-time Chargers passing leaders, all-time Bears vs. Lions record, etc.
Wolfram will also be working with STATS to provide the same type of info for other sports including baseball and basketball.
Wolfram|Alpha’s Largest Hurdle
I said even before Wolfram|Alpha launched that the company’s biggest challenge is not the technology or data sources. They’re experts in this area and continue to do a great job.
The biggest obstacle Wolfram faces is marketing. Marketing Wolfram|Alpha in a time when most people live in a Google or Bing-centric world, is a serious challenge. Of course, this is challenge is one for many companies.
Luckily, after many years, I’m slowly starting to see more people open to trying something different and adding more tools to their search toolkit.
Of course, what search tool you use and when you use it all depends on what you’re looking for and your information need. More and more often, Wolfram delivers not only the data you need but also visualizations and related material.
Comparing Wolfram|Alpha to other search tools can be unfair. It’s not a general purpose search tool but rather a “fact engine” or interactive reference resource that you can query using natural language using data from curated and trusted sources.
I speak from experience that once people understand what Wolfram can and cannot do then see practical examples of what Wolfram has to offer, they’re often hooked.
By adding NFL statistics (and soon more sports statistics) Wolfram|Alpha has powerful ammo to reach out to new users with and not only provide them authoritative American football statistics but also show them all that their product has to offer.