by Analytics Insight
February 23, 2022
In the era of digital transformation, the tendrils of big data are reaching out into virtually every area
You don’t need us to tell you that the tendrils of big data are reaching out into virtually every area that you could mention. Everything from the government to healthcare and from business to city planning is harnessing the avalanche of information that is generated and captured today.
So, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that one sector that represents the coming together of business, entertainment and performance has also got in on the act – and in a very big way. What is surprising is that sport’s reliance on analytics has been gradually building up for around three decades now. In the earliest days, it was, admittedly, a fairly basic approach.
But, as each year passes, they become more sophisticated and applicable in more and more situations.
For example, anyone visiting an online betting site will now be able to have a wealth of information at their fingertips to help them make more informed wagering decisions. That’s because it can provide an extra dimension to analyzing a team’s or individual player’s previous performances – something that might also indicate more accurately how future ones will turn out. It’s also the collation of many more facts, and factors, than ever before that can make the real difference to the accuracy of those predictions.
But before a ball is hit, thrown, or caught, or a starting pistol is fired, data analytics will also have a major part to play.
When it comes to using the information available to spot future talents, one of the most famous examples of recent times formed the plot of the movie Moneyball. It tells the story of how the general manager of the Oaklands Athletics baseball team, Billy Beane, used a system called sabermetrics to identify ballplayers whose values were way lower than their actual abilities. As a result, he put together a team on a limited budget that went on to win the 2002 American League West title – and even encouraged the Boston Red Sox to try to poach him for themselves.
There are also plenty of examples of teams that have used forensic-style examinations of performance which, in turn, has helped them to punch well above their weight. In the UK, Lincoln City FC is a relatively small club but, in 2017, managed to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, the country’s leading knock-out competition in the sport.
Much of their success was put down to the use of an analytics program called Hudl which relied on video replays of players’ performances that could then be used to pinpoint individual strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.
In US sports, real successes of using the same sort of technology have been experienced by teams like the NFL’s 2018 Super Bowl victors the Philadelphia Eagles, and in basketball by the Golden State Warriors. In both cases, they have analytics experts on hand during matches to give immediate feedback and strategy suggestions.
This is also a trend that is set to continue as analytics become more and more sophisticated – and continue to prove quite decisively that knowledge really does equal power.
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