Professional sports, over time, have become really competitive where a minute can change the course of the game. Sports teams now have much loyal fan-base and the followers are asking for detailed information. Agencies and team players are also now realizing the need for proper performance tracking such that corrective measures can be taken after studying accurate performance metrics. As a result, sports managements are competing to gain a competitive edge against the peers in the field of play. Hence, the surge in the need for sports analytics.
Sports analytics was brought to the public eye by the movie Moneyball, a 2011 sports-drama film that portrayed how a baseball coach, Billy Beane rebuilt his team against all odds using empirical data and statistical analyses on players’ performance. His trial with sabermetrics changed the way the game is played forever and made analytics a dream for many.
Dr. Lashbrook, Founder, and President of Sports Management Worldwide mentioned that “The frontier of Analytics is just beginning and there is no end in sight to its potential. (Sports) Analytics is a lucrative field with unlimited opportunities. ” Today, not just baseball, the teams playing football, hockey, soccer, etc. have at least one analyst for crunching team data.
So, What is Sports Analytics?
Sports Analytics includes the use of data related to sports such as players’ statistics, weather conditions, information from expert scouts, etc. and build predictive models around it to make informed decisions. Data management tools, analytical models, information systems are all combined together for the decision-making process. Such information is primarily sought for improving the team performance.
The other section of sports analytics focuses on understanding and maintaining the fan-base of big teams and capturing the eye of investors. There is an increase in the number of informed fans that continuously depend on portals and platforms for following the performance of their favorite teams. The sports agencies depend on such analytical platforms for engaging the investors and increasing the fan-interaction.
With the advent of the digital age and the ever-increasing sports followers, the combination of the two has come a long way in changing the dynamics of gameplay today.
Progress in Sports Analytics
Data within a sports organization would normally consist of player and team summaries, performance statistics, video-clips, etc. but now the data comes from many varied sources that have grown tremendously in the past few years. The explosion of sports science has made the health and nutrition tracking of the players much more sophisticated. The trainers and medical personnel now maintain their own datasets that have become an important player evaluation asset.
Apart from statistics, today’s sports analytics also relies on SQL technologies as opposed to traditional hand-written archives, machine learning algorithms, data mining and all other factors that fall under the gamut of predictive analytics. The improvements in computing capabilities and the development of inferential statistics have opened a very new paradigm in the field of sports.
Tech companies like Zebra Technologies and STATSports have come up with player tracking devices that capture metrics both on-field or while training in real-time that provides timely insights and bespoke training plans. Such technologies have been instrumental in reducing the number of possible player injuries, better strategy formulation, and performance enhancement. These devices are products of advanced embedded technologies, cloud services, and powerful processors.
From the academic’s point of view, there are many universities, active sports communities, management schools offering programmes in sports analytics. These institutes have recognized the need and interest for such courses and are now offering fellowship programmes for research in sports analytics. For aspirants in this field, understanding the statistics is one facet of sports expertise but translating the data into solutions and insights such that it helps to strategize remains the key aspect.
For people wanting to make a career in sports management and analytics, it is important to note that there is no sign of this field being less important and it is far from being a fad. The demand is far less than the predicted supply of experts in sports analytics. The time is right to step into and contribute to this dynamically changing field.