Hello, Goodbye

August 20, 2013

Hello, hello
I don’t know why you say goodbye
I say hello.
–The Beatles

Goodbyes are hard. They suggest a certain finality, a signal that something good has come to an end. Unfortunately, life is full of goodbyes, and today I must say mine. After six years, five websites, and hundreds of thousands of lines of code, my tenure at Sports Reference will come to an end this week.

I started working on what would become Basketball-Reference.com back in 2003. I was in awe of what Baseball-Reference.com had done for baseball statistics and I had the pollyannaish idea that I could do the same thing for basketball statistics. After spending months building the database and designing the pages, the website debuted to great little fanfare on May 10, 2004. In fact, shortly after announcing the launch of the website on the now defunct APBR Yahoo! Group I received the following reply:

what’s the difference? what does yours have that [databasebasketball.com] doesn’t, besides that mustard-colored header*?

Well then.

* For those of you who are wondering what the site looked like back in May 2004, check out the Wayback Machine’s archive of the site.

Truth be told, the feedback I received was mostly positive, and I continued to work on the site as a hobby while keeping my day job. After some time, though, it become apparent that I could probably make more money — and definitely have more fun! — by turning my hobby into a full time job. So in June 2007 I made a big decision: I resigned from my job as a lecturer for the Department of Statistics at Ohio State and started working full time for Sports Reference.

That decision turned out to be a boon for the basketball site’s growth. Back in 2008, my first full year working for Sports Reference, Basketball-Reference.com was the company’s least-visited site, averaging about 2.8 million page views per month. But today Basketball-Reference.com is the company’s second most-visited site, averaging over 11 million page views per month.

Along the way I’ve done a lot more that just work on Basketball-Reference.com. For example, I designed and built the hockey, Olympics, college football, and college basketball sites, expanding Sports Reference’s web presence from three sites to seven.

Despite the fact that Sports Reference has very few employees — the company had just two full time programmers until May 2011 — its network of sites has received numerous honors. Most notably, TIME magazine recognized Sports Reference as one of the “50 Best Websites” of 2010, and the company won an Alpha Award for “Best Analytics Innovation/Technology” at the 2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

In short, I am very proud of the work that I have done for Sports Reference. So why, you may ask, am I leaving? This isn’t the time or the place for me to get into the reasons surrounding my departure, so I’ll just say that I chose to leave due to “creative differences” and leave it at that.*

* Full disclosure: I will continue to be one of the company’s co-owners.

And even though I’m saying goodbye to Sports Reference, I’m saying hello to new challenges: In September I will start a job as a web developer for Franklin University in Columbus.

As for a personal Internet presence, I plan to stay plugged into the sports scene through my Twitter account (@jkubatko) and this blog (Statitudes). I also hope that the numerous friendships that I have developed thanks to my work at Sports Reference will continue. You can always reach me at my Gmail address (justin DOT kubatko AT gmail DOT com).

And with that, I say goodbye … I mean, hello.

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