"Statistics are for losers” means that the only statistic that matters is if a team won or lost—not individual statistics, such as how many yards a player gained or how many points a player scored. The saying appears to have originated in college football; two newspaper stories in 1960 credited it to University of Tennessee football coach Robert Neyland (1892-1962).
Another statistics saying associated with sports is “Statistics are like bikinis—what they reveal is interesting, but what they conceal is vital.”
Wikipedia: Robert Neyland
Robert Reese Neyland, MBE (February 17, 1892 – March 28, 1962) was an American football player and coach and and officer in the United States Army, reaching the rank of brigadier general. He served three stints as the head football coach as the University of Tennessee (1926–1934, 1936–1940, 1946–1952). He is one of the few college football head coaches to have non-consecutive tenure at the same school. Neyland remains the all-time winningest coach in Tennessee Volunteers history with 173 wins in 216 games, six undefeated seasons, nine undefeated regular seasons, seven conference championships, and four national championships. At Tennessee, he reeled off undefeated streaks of 33, 28, 23, 19, and 14 games.
Neyland is often referred to as one of the best, if not the best, defensive football coaches ever. Sports Illustrated named Neyland as the defensive coordinator of its all-century college football team in its “Best of the 20th Century” edition. 112 of his victories came via shutout. In 1938 and 1939, Neyland’s Vols set NCAA records when they shut out 17 straight opponents for 71 consecutive shutout quarters. His ‘39 squad is the last NCAA team in history to hold every regular season opponent scoreless.
Neyland was also an innovator. He is credited with being the first coach to utilize sideline telephones and game film to study opponents. His teams also were some of the first to wear lightweight pads and tearaway jerseys. Such measures increased his players’ elusiveness and exemplify Neyland’s “speed over strength” philosophy. Neyland is also famous for creating the seven “Game Maxims” of football that many coaches, on all levels, still use. Tennessee players recite the maxims before every game in the locker room as a team.
Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee is not only named for “The General”, but was designed by him.
Google News Archive
19 November 1941, Toledo (OH) Blade, “Mirrors of Sport” by Bob French, pg. 20, col. 1:
Ohio State 46; Wisconsin 34.
What records were set Saturday must have gone to Wisconsin, for their statistics are for losers. The Badgers gained 381 yards by rushing and passing, made 16 first downs, scored in every quarter. Wisconsin has been noted for its heavy scoring all season, but it made its biggest count of the entire year Saturday. When did another losing eleven ever do so many things?
7 September 1959, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, “Pelt Solves Esks’ Defence” by Hal Sigurdson, pg. 15, cols. 2-3:
However, statistics are for losers and when they look at the standings at year’s end no one will remember Edmonton had 19 first downs to Winnipeg’s 13 gained 238 yards rushing to Winnipeg’s 102, completed 60% of their passes compared to 42.9% by Winnipeg or fumbled only once while Winnipeg was fumbling twice.
18 October 1960, Blytheville (AR) Courier News, “The View rom Here” by Ed Hayes, pg. 8, col. 1:
Stanell agrees with General Bob Neyland who once cracked: “Statistics are for losers.”
Google News Archive
26 October 1960, Miami (FL) News, pg. 1C, col. 4:
Boston College Finds
Statistics For Losers
By TOMMY FITZGERALD
Boston College has outgained its opposition this season by 1.267 yards to 1260, sustaining the aphorism of old Bob Neyland: “Statistics are for losers.”
5 November 1960, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. B15, col. 2:
For 25-7 Win
Miami, Fla., Nov. 5—(AP)—Florida State’s game Seminoles, 25-7 victims of the Miami Hurricanes, can vouch firmly today for the old saying that “football statistics are for losers.”
22 October 1965, Boston (MA) Globe, “Chargers Pace A.F.L., So Does Sid Gillman” (UPI), pg. 44:
If Sid Gillman, coach of the San Diego Chargers, thinks “statistics are for losers,” how does he explain his team’s 4-0-2 record?
2 September 1966, New York (NY) Times, “Passes by Snead Pace Offensive” by William N. Wallace, pg. 52:
But Sherman (New York Giants football coach Allie Sherman—ed.) has often said that statistics are for losers. It’s the score that counts.
December 25, 1967
Football’s Way-out Season
An assessment of the autumn just past, including memories of events too improbable to credit, followed by previews of five bowl games and who might win them if form—at last—prevails
Stallings likes to say, “Statistics are for losers.” True or not, statistics certainly did not make his team a winner. They were out-first-downed, outrushed and outpassed all season.
Google News Archive
6 November 1972, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “FSU: Huff’s Passing No Consolation” by Tom Kelly, pg. 1C, col. 1:
TALLAHASSEE — There is an old football axiom, echoed by coaches from Knute Rockne to Bear Bryant, that proclaims, statistics are for losers. In other words, “Tell me the score, not how many yards you gained.”
Google News Archive
17 November 1975, Morning Record (Meriden, CT), “Panthers stun Morgan, 14-9” by Bud Townsend, pg. 15, col. 1:
Never did the old adage “statistics are for losers” prove out as it did in this one, as the Zaleskimen took a numbers shellacking but with the exception of a hectic 2-minute breakdown just before the half, which allowed the haughty Huskies to take a 9-0 lead, ..
The World of Sports Statistics:
How the fans and professionals records, compile and use information
By Arthur Friedman with Joel H. Cohen
New York, NY: Atheneum
“Points are for winners; statistics are for losers.”
It’s been said by countless athletes — superstars, stars and mediocre performers alike.
In the FCS Huddle: Numbers don’t lie for FCS playoff teams
Published November 23, 2011
Philadelphia, PA – You sometimes hear people in sports utter the phrase, “Statistics are for losers.”
New York City • Sports/Games • (0) Comments • Sunday, November 27, 2011 • Permalink