The past several weeks have afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself into the growing topic of analytics in sports – from listening to Charles Barkley’s entertaining rant against the value of analytics to Miami Heat center Chris Bosh telling me directly that SAP is “doing some amazing stuff” in this space.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, the proliferation of big data in sports is changing the game (pick any game – basketball, tennis, cricket, sailing, horse racing, etc.) – from how fans experience the game in stadium or at home to the way players and coaches analyze their opponents to identify predictable patterns to how media tell a better story to how teams evaluate talent.
Take the Washington Redskins – the latest team to use the SAP Scouting app to evaluate college prospects and pro players. In the words of Eric Schaeffer, vice president of Football Administration, Washington Redskins: “SAP Scouting provides both a comprehensive profile of a prospect, player or team as well as breakthrough analytics capabilities to assess their true and projected value at a level that was previously unavailable to us. We have an exciting relationship with SAP to advance the system that pushes the boundaries yet takes into consideration our approach and user needs.”
I think that’s the key. With the right system, anyone can access and play with the information, whether it’s for enjoyment like Fantasy Football or for making important in-game decisions like where Serena hits the majority of her 2nd serves when the score is 30 to 40.
What’s even more intriguing is where we go next. With the amount of data doubling every two years, the possibilities are endless.
Former Bulls and Lakers head coach Phil Jackson opined at the recent MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that the next big thing in sports could be how to build chemistry. “It tells players where the others will be. It’s all the non-verbal stuff.”
Or, it could be developing new basketball stats. A better measure of a rebounder could certainly be rebounding opportunities and not just rebounds made.
We have the data. We have the systems in place to analyze the data. The art and intangibles of the game will play out on the field, which is why we love sports. As technology in sports continues to grow – and it will – we’ll see the proliferation of new revenue streams from data and insights.
Let’s be creative. What would you like to see?