Success vs. attendance

This one should be obvious. If a team is winning, what happens to their home attendance? Goes up, right? In general, yes. But how much?

I was having a conversation with someone about attendance at lacrosse games, and he said that attendance had dropped at games in Philadelphia ever since the league started cracking down on hitting and fighting. It certainly hasn’t been eliminated from the game, but many think it’s down from where it used to be. He said that this is a bad thing for the league and this could be seen by looking at the attendance numbers. I pointed out that the fact that Philadelphia has had a playoff team only twice in the last decade may have something to do with declining attendance, so it’s pretty close to impossible to say that the drop in attendance was due entirely (or even partially) to the drop in hitting.

Hitting is something we don’t have accurate stats on, so we can’t really do any kind of analysis on how that correlates with attendance. But we do have won-loss records and attendance numbers, so let’s look at those.

What we’re looking for is how a team’s attendance correlates with that team’s success on the floor. To measure attendance (and factor out the number of games per season), we’ll use the average attendance at home games. To measure success, we’ll use the winning percentage, number of wins divided by number of games played. In this case, we are ignoring playoff games. I then calculated what’s called the correlation coefficient for each team. I won’t describe the math since if you know what it is you don’t need the description, and if you don’t know what it is you likely don’t care. Suffice it to say that a value of 1 means the attendance always goes up as success goes up and drops when the team is less successful. A value of -1 means it’s exactly backwards – attendance goes up as success goes down and vice versa. The closer the number is to 1 or -1, the stronger the effect – a value of 0 means that attendance and success are unrelated.

To avoid small sample sizes, we’ll only look at teams with 10 or more seasons in the NLL. The teams involved are the New York Saints, Baltimore Thunder, Philadelphia Wings, Colorado Mammoth, Calgary Roughnecks, Toronto Rock, Rochester Knighthawks, and Buffalo Bandits.


What this tells us is that the New York Saints attendance numbers were very dependent on their success – as their win-loss records started to decline, their attendance dropped. This effect was similar in Philadelphia, Rochester, and Colorado. The rest of the teams had much smaller coefficients, meaning that their attendance didn’t depend very much on their success on the floor.

Calgary’s value was negative, implying that as Calgary’s numbers go up, their attendance numbers actually go down. But this is a bit misleading – especially since I tweeted about it saying that it was depressing. The actual value is –0.019, which is close enough to zero that it’s fair to say that Calgary’s success on the floor is unrelated to their attendance numbers. The numbers for Toronto and Baltimore are slightly higher but still low enough to imply no correlation, and Buffalo is right at the bottom end of “low correlation”.

The definition of “bandwagon jumpers” or “fairweather fans” would be those who show up to support their team when they’re doing well and abandon the team when they’re not. Would it be unfair to refer to the numbers for the top four as being indicative of this? I’ll leave that determination as an exercise for the reader.


Week 2 picks

So the upstart Stealth knocked off the champion Knighthawks last week, and while this was not a shocker, it’s not what I picked so I start the season on a losing note. Than again, so did a lot of people.

Record: 0-1 (.000)




BUF @ PHI I’m not sure if this is because I think Buffalo will do pretty well this year or because I think Philly won’t. Likely both. A number of people pointed out that Cosmo’s numbers weren’t exactly stellar last year (12.41 GAA, 75.9 save %), but he had no training camp and started cold in the middle of the season. His GAA and save % in his last five games were 9.36 and 82.3%. Bandits4
MIN @ BUF Just as I think Buffalo will do well this year, I think the Swarm will do better. Adding Matisz and Jackson to an already-strong core will help up front, and once Sorensen is activated, they’ll have an even better back end in front of two of the best young goalies in the league. Swarm4
TOR @ CAL Two of the strongest teams face off in each team’s season opener. Calgary’s 5-2 in their last 7 home games, though the Rock are 6-1 in their last 7 away games. Considering the firepower on both of these teams, this one will come down to goaltending. Nick Rose, in his first full season as an NLL starter, has yet to face his former Roughneck teammates while Mike Poulin is coming off a Goaltender of the Year season. I have to give Calgary the edge here. Roughnecks5
WAS @ COL After the disaster that was the 2012 Stealth season, the team has to be pretty pleased with their opening game against the defending champs. They looked more like the 2010 or 2011 Stealth and Colorado might be the victim of that confidence boost. Stealth4
TOR @ EDM As bullish as I am on Minnesota, I’m not so much on Edmonton. The Rush’s problem has always been offense and Mark Matthews will certainly help to make up for the loss of Shawn Williams, Aaron Wilson, and Scott Evans but he can’t do it all. If Corey Small, Ryan Ward, and Zack Greer don’t bump up their offensive numbers, the Rush could lose a lot of 9-7 games. Rock5

NLL Chatter now on Facebook

You can now follow your favourite NLL blog on Facebook! If you’re a Facebook user, just head on over to, click Like, and join the party. I’ll post links to articles when I write them, questions, polls, that kind of stuff.

Since I’m talking about social networking anyway, let’s keep going. I haven’t set up a blog-specific twitter account but if you’re on twitter, you can follow me at @GraemePerrow. I’m on Google+ as well, though I’m less active there.

Week 1 pick

Last season was the first one where I made predictions on each and every game. I picked 31 winners out of 72 games, or 43%, which means that if I flipped a coin for each one rather than looking at the teams and players and doing some actual analysis, I would probably have had a higher percentage.

My goal for this season is to beat last season, and if all goes well, I might even hit the elusive 50% mark.

Record: 0-0 (.000)




ROC @ WAS On IL Indoor, Ty Pilson broke down this game, and ranked both teams even on defense, goaltending, coaching, and intangibles. He gave the Knighthawks a slight edge on offense. I might have ranked the Knighthawks goaltending a little higher than that of the Stealth, but otherwise I agree with Ty. It’s a testament to the parity of the league that you can have a game this even between last year’s champions and the only team that didn’t make the playoffs.
I think the Stealth will be better than last year, but I have to give this one to the defending champs.

Seeing the future: Lacrosse predictions for 2013

Just as it is tradition to look back over the previous year at the end of December, it’s also tradition to look ahead and make predictions for the upcoming year. I don’t have a crystal ball but I do have a frying pan that looks kind of like the Mirror of Galadriel from The Lord of the Rings. After breakfast today I gazed deep into the bacon grease, and here is what I saw:Graeme's magic frying pan

  1. Shortly before the MLL season begins Casey Powell will announce that he will retire from the MLL after this season, confusing people who thought he had already retired. He will call the season his “farewell tour” and play one game as a member of each team.
  2. Paul Rabil will fall in love and get engaged. He will then announce that he’s moving his foundation’s headquarters and all of his lacrosse clinics to his fiancée’s home town of Edmonton. Once he does this, his fiancée will laugh maniacally and remove her face mask, revealing that she is actually Bruce Urban.
  3. After the Philadelphia Wings finish with a 5-11 record and out of the playoffs, GM Johnny Mouradian will admit that his plan of bringing in American field lacrosse players was a failure. He will announce that next season, they will bring in American soccer players instead. At the entry draft in October, he almost drafts Freddy Adu before being reminded that Adu was born in Ghana.
  4. Dane Dobbie will have a breakout year, scoring 57 goals and 55 assists for 112 points. However, he will be given no MVP consideration because he finishes fourth in scoring on the Roughnecks.
  5. Mark Matthews will set a league record with 86 goals, and will also pick up four assists. Unfortunately, the Edmonton Rush score 90 goals on the season.
  6. The NLL expands to Montreal, but the new franchise is immediately put on hiatus while the government of Quebec argues whether “lacrosse” is still a French word or has been used by English-speakers for long enough that it’s not really French anymore and has to be replaced by something else.
  7. Rhys Duch is traded to the Colorado Mammoth in a blockbuster. The Mammoth immediately start looking for a new arena announcer after Willie B’s head explodes.
  8. The NLL announces that NLL Chatter is the first-ever winner of the new “National Lacrosse League Blog of the Year” award. At the awards ceremony, commissioner George Daniel starts to hand me the award, but pulls it back. He then turns into my 12th grade English teacher Mrs. Johnson, who says “You use too many commas!” All of the lacrosse players start chasing me with their sticks, and I can’t yell or move my feet. Then I wake up in a cold sweat.