Analytics In Sports – Empowering The Nerds

Professional sports teams are changing the game and giving the nerds a chance to shine in the sports arena. After years of sitting on the sidelines, the data loving geeks are influencing everything from the selection of players, to what is being served at the concessions and being sold in the kiosks.  How are they doing this? By leveraging predictive analytics! Teams such as the Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays, and San Antonio Spurs have embraced the use of analytics in sports and are seeing tremendous success.

Here are three ways Analytics can bring championships home:

  • Building the Team: Analytics guide teams on what players to keep and what players to trade to maintain salary caps and create championship contenders.  Last year, Memphis Grizzlies VP of Basketball Operations, John Hollinger, traded star guard Rudy Gay to Toronto. Many were shocked by this move, and some viewed the move as extremely unpopular. But using Hollinger’s own analytical formula, Player Efficiency Rating (PER), the Grizzlies traded for a trio of players that provided the depth of skills needed and saved an estimated $37.2 million dollars in salary costs over 3 years in the process.
  • Building Customized Training: Clothing with imbedded sensors can provide coaches on the field stats on player’s heart rate, fatigue, speed and other data points.  This helps coaches to create unique training programs for each athlete. Companies like ADIDAS have created revolutionary lines like miCoach that track such data.
  • Improving the Fan Experience: The Tampa Bay Lightning, known for creating an amazing fan experience, are taking it a step further.  They recently purchased analytic software to bring data into the forefront; and from different sources, such as point-of-sale for retail, ticket sales and admissions.  This single analytics platform uses that valuable data to share insights in a seamless manner across the organization.  Analytics will “elevate our team's efficiency and effectiveness in making data-based decisions that impact our overall performance and ability to provide value to our fans,” according to Rob Canton, Executive Vice President, Finance & Strategic Planning, Tampa Bay Lightning.

Today’s analytics in sports is becoming more and more advanced. Organizations that use analytical output to help them make personnel, marketing, sales and salary decisions will be better positioned to win on the ice, court, or field, all the while increasing fan loyalty.

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