Stats in Everyday Life: Z-scores and the Top 20 Athletes Ever

“Top” lists of anything are always popular because people want to see how the list compares to their own beliefs. Readers then get to debate the merits of who was included or excluded. When it comes to a diverse group such as athletes, it can be difficult to compare across sports.

Please click here for a an article discussing some these issues.

Use this article and premise for discussing ways we run into this problem in psychological research. Ask students to devise strategies to make comparisons more fair (e.g., this would include issues related to operational definitions and z-scores to name a couple). Even something as simple as comparing salaries (if we wanted to believe that was a measure of success) is difficult across sports, but is exactly the type of problem that Z-scores address).