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Ways Web Analytics are Changing Pro Sports

Professional sport has definitely changed in the last 10 years and the study and use of analytics can be attributed to this. From the major four sports today being baseball, football, basketball and hockey, general managers, coaches and professional athletes are engaging in the use of strategic analytics to increase performance, strategies and trends within the sport industry. More importantly, how can these analytical trends and strategies impact player performance, specific player trends, fan engagement, etc.? Lastly, can these analytical strategies and methods shape professional sport in the near future, while changing the landscape for aspiring sport industry leaders?

Within the sport industry, especially within professional sport 10 years ago, you didn’t have the conversations you have today in relation to the study and use of analytics. General managers and coaches within professional sport today will use analytical methods and strategies in different ways to utilize better team performance, individual performance, understanding trends and strategies, etc.

Can these analytical methods and strategies actually work and why are some general managers not engaging in these today? Also, is there a point where analytics becomes too much and costs the team wins, money, value, etc.? Who would you take to lead your team today in the sport industry: a scout with 20 years of experience or a 28-year-old with an analytics background and knowledge of economic methods and strategies? Ideally, you’d like to have both; however this is the question many sport leaders are facing today.

With the advent and innovations of technology, more organizations and professionals are utilizing the use of analytics. Take, for example, the New England Patriots and what owner Robert Kraft is engaging in to adapt to the popularity and trendsetting analytic measures, methods, analysis, etc. He has his own company called Kraft Analytics Group, which is aimed to help assist sports businesses become more efficient and profitable through the use of big data. The organization has already led successful data-driven marketing campaigns that have put into perspective the value in using analytics today in professional sports (Wallace, 2016).

What’s shaping this sector of analytics today in professional sport is the MIT Sloan Sports Analytic Conference that’s held annually and discusses topics including player tracking, the rise of big data in professional sport, ticketing analytics, wearable technology and analytics, etc. Former professional athletes, coaches, general managers and sport industry professionals discuss the impact of these specific analytical trends and strategies they are currently using and implementing. This conference started 10 years ago and has grown significantly to a two-day event where there is a different panel of analytical experts each day to discuss with fans and guests the significance and concepts of analytics (Wallace, 2016).

Also, due to the explosion of the use of analytics in the sport industry, you’re now seeing more jobs being posted and developed within organizations. Specific jobs in marketing, scouting, management and other areas are utilizing the use of analytics and more organizations are looking to hire those with an analytics background and knowledge (Wallace, 2016).

What will these specific jobs in the sport industry look like in 10 years? How will analytics shape the way these jobs are being created and utilized to better understand analytic measures and methods of player tracking, digital ticketing, player performance, team performance, etc.? Since you’re currently seeing these questions being answered now, you will only see more jobs geared toward analytics increase and become more in demand. Can professional sport and analytics co-exist with one another? Yes, they can.

Resources

Wallace, B. (2016). Tackling Tech: What’s New in Sports Analytics – The NFL and Beyond, pp. 1. Retrieved from http://www.patriots.com/news/2016/06/09/tacking-tech-whats-new-sports-analytics-nfl-beyond.

About the Author

Jason Becker has worked in the sport industry within sectors such as marketing, promotions, communication and public relations. He also researches ways in which sport organizations and brands utilize analytics to better performance, engagement, awareness and future trends that are occurring. He currently teaches within higher education in Sport Management and teaches courses such as Sport Analytics, Sport Communication, Technology in Sport, Facility Management, Research Methods in Sport, Sport in Society and Leadership in Sport. He has over 15 years of experience in the sport industry. Jason has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from SUNY Oswego and my Master’s degree in Sport Management from Canisius College.

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