Sports Analytics For Players, Owners and Fans
In the 2011 film Moneyball Billy Beane introduced to the sports industry how to use data analytics to acquire statistically optimal players for the Oakland A’s. In the last 4 years, advancements in data collection, preparation, aggregation and advanced analytics technology have made it possible to broaden the scope of applying analytics beyond the game and player, drastically change the shape of an industry that has a long history built on tradition.
Last week, MIT Sloan held its 9th annual Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, MA. Amidst the 6 foot snow banks, sports fanatics and data scientists came together at this sold out event to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. This year’s conference agenda included topics spanning game statistics and modeling, player contract and salary negotiations, dynamic ticket pricing, referee calls to improving fan experiences.
This latter topic, improving fan experiences, is one that has seen a boost in technology innovation such that data is more readily available for use in analytics. For example, newer NFL stadiums are wifi connected throughout so that fans can watch replays on their devices, tweet, and share selfies during the game. With mobile devices connected to the stadium’s wifi, franchises can drive revenue generating marketing campaigns to their home fan base throughout the game.
More important, however, is the need to keep the Millennial Generation interested in watching games live. In an article posted by TechRepublic, college students are more likely to leave a game during halftime if they are not able to connect to the internet or use social media. Teams need to keep fans in the stadiums so the goal needs to ensure the fan experience in a live venue matches what they can experience at home.
Innovation in advanced analytics and Big Data platforms such as Hadoop gives sports analysts the ability to access significant volumes of detailed data resulting in greater modeling accuracy. Streamlined data preparation tools speed the process from receiving raw data to delivering insight. Advanced analytics offered in the cloud as a service offers team owners and managers access to predictive analytics tools without having to manage and staff large data centers. Better visualization applications provide an effective way to communicate what the data means to those without a math degree.
When applying these innovations to new data sources while combining with advancements of analytics in sports, the results will be game changing far beyond what Billy Beane was able to accomplish with the Okland A’s.
Our congratulations to the winners of the top research papers submitted at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics conference: Who Is Responsible For A Called Strike? and Counterpoints: Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball. It will be interesting to see how these models will make an impact, with Spring Training and March Madness just around the corner. Maybe next year, we will see a submission on the dependencies of atmospheric conditions on football pressure and its impact on the NFL playoffs (PV=NRT) and get a data-driven explanation of Deflate Gate.