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The leading minds in sports convened in Boston last week at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to share ideas about how big data will be a game-changer for fans, players, coaches, officials and front-office personnel.
By Lauren Brousell , Thu, March 13, 2014
CIO — Analytics and big data have potential in many industries, but they are on the cusp of scoring major points in sports. From coaches and players to front offices and businesses, analytics can make a difference in scoring touchdowns, signing contracts or preventing injuries.
Coaches, players and the leading minds in sports came together to discuss the potential of analytics and big data last week at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. Here are eight ways data analytics can improve efficiency, accuracy and profitability in sports. Who knows? Big data may even eliminate blown calls one day.
1. Better Precision in the Strike Zone
In baseball, Pitchf/x technology from Sportvision has been installed in all 30 Major League Baseball Stadiums to track pitches during games. Sportvision has a suite of other technologies for baseball, football and motor sports. However, nothing has replaced the judgment calls umpires have to make at the plate in real-time, says Hank Adams, CEO of Sportvision. "Sportvision technology is being adapted to use for referees and umpires. We can very accurately determine if something is a strike or a ball."
For now, umpires still rely on the naked eye to call a strike or ball and until the technology or baseball rules evolve, catchers like Jose Molina will still be able to game the system.
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2. More Resources for Analytics Buffs
On the fan side, statistic enthusiasts have a slew of websites they can visit to see breakdowns of their favorite players and slices and dices of specific games and plays.
"We take that data and organize it to make it understandable to average people. We can see how pitchers performance has changed in a certain game. Or pull up a map of what an umpire's strike/ball calls are and see the strike zone's shape and size," says Dan Brooks, founder and lead developer of BrooksBaseball.net, a website that makes sports statistics digestible for sports fans.
3. Data From Wearable Technologies
Many technology vendors are trying to get into the wearable technology market, given the interest in devices like Google Glass and fitness trackers.
Adidas has a system called miCoach that works by having players attach a wearable device to their jerseys. Data from the device shows the coach who the top performers are and who needs rest. It also provides real-time stats on each player, such as speed, heart rate and acceleration.