Market research

5 ways in which Big Data is changing sport – from team’s performance to fans’ experience

There’s no denying that sport has been undergoing a real data revolution in the last years. From team’s performance, to transfer markets, to fans’ experience – the data’s everywhere and it brings some real benefits! Learn more with STATSCORE.

1. Wearable trackers measuring players’ performance

In today’s professional sport, the difference between the best athlete, and the one who finishes second, often boils down to millimetres or a fraction of a second. That’s why the world’s top players are willing to employ every possible solution to give them the edge over their opponents.

With various types of wearable sensors available on the market, it easier than ever for players and their managers to collect incredible amounts of information. In fact, today’s athletes have access to fantastically sophisticated data about their body functions.

Wearable trackers precisely measure everything from their heart rate, to hydration, posture and body temperature at any given moment in the game. The also allow coaches to learn about specific numbers related to total distance covered by a player, their speed, or fatigue index. With all this information and knowledge now available to teams and players, there can be no doubt that performance tracking tech has been a real game-changer for the world of sports!

2. Employing big data in team’s and player’s tactics

One of the most famous examples of using great amounts of detailed data in sports is the story popularised by Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball (then made into a movie starring Brad Pitt).

It tells a true story of the MLB’s Oakland Athletics 2002 season, when the team’s GM Billy Beane decides to take an unorthodox route to team-building. Instead of relying on more conventional methods, he takes an uncompromisingly data-based approach based on computer-generated analysis, which turns out to be surprisingly effective.

Another use case? One of the most successful tennis players of all times, Novak Djokovic, is known to use some powerful data analysis techniques that allow him (and his coaches) to discover links between his wins or losses and some quantifiable metrics related to, for example, types of the swing he uses (forehand, backhand, etc.)

These stories are just two examples of how big data is used by sport organisations and players to up their game. In fact, this approach may be found almost everywhere in professional sport.

3. Fan experience – bringing them closer to their teams

Does anybody remember the final score of the 1998 NFL game between Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals? Most people don’t. What they do remember, however, is that it was the first game when the 1st and Ten virtual-reality yellow line appeared on the field, allowing fans to clearly see the exact distance the offensive team needed to go for a first down.

Since then, data visualisation tools, in-play game tracking, real-time stats widgets, scoreboards, livescores, and augmented reality sports apps have been hitting the market. We don’t need to add that it’s all based on data – the data that allows fans and pundits to profoundly understand the game, follow every pass on the field (even if they’re not watching the broadcast), and analyse the situation on and off the field.

4. More data, more bets!

Online betting is getting ever more popular, and the number of options available to punters (competitions to choose, ability to place bets during the game, mobile betting) keeps growing. It’s of course based on some of the most accurate and up-to-date information available. Betting organisations keep investing in new ways to encourage more bets – and the more data they have, the more odds they can offer.

There can be no betting without data, and today’s technology creates unprecedented opportunities for bookmakers by allowing them to employ accurate pre-match stats, and in-game trackers. And the more attractive its presentation, the greater opportunity for acquiring new customers. That’s why betting organisations need to focus on providing the most accurate data, the most detailed visualisations and statistics that illustrate everything that takes place on the field.

5. Sport games – more data-based than ever

What makes Football Manager one of the most addictive games on the market? Part of the answer must lie in the fact that it gives players an incredibly real-life experience of managing an actual football team. That would be impossible without fantastically accurate data about particular players – not just their names and birth dates, but also their skills, characteristic traits, strengths and weaknesses, and much more.

This intersection of sports and data is also evident in various Fantasy Football games, in which participants serve as general managers of virtual teams, are gaining popularity. In this case, participants create their own teams (e.g. in NFL) by choosing team rosters through a draft in which all players of the real league are available. The points they get are awarded on the basis of the actual performances of particular players in the real life.


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