You’ll be hard pressed to find any industry that big data hasn’t touched in one way or another. And if you look at sports – and professional sports in particular – it’s clear that big data and the games we all know and love are closely interconnected. From coaches and players to fans and trainers, the people in and around these games now have access to technologies that weren’t even a thought in the past.
4 Specific Ways Big Data is Impacting Sports
Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, soccer, or anything in between, the impact of big data and technology is present. On that note, let’s take a look at a handful of specific developments and what we can expect to see in the near future.
It’s hard to imagine the NFL without fantasy football, but it wasn’t that long ago that there was no such thing. CBS launched the first ever fantasy football website back in 1997, and since then participation has grown to nearly 75 million people, spending $4.6 billion.
At the heart of fantasy football is the ability for these leagues to access real-time data and organize it in a way that produce scores for the fans or “owners” watching at home. This real-time access to data and information has been great for the NFL, engaging younger audiences and keeping fans engrossed.
Strike Zone Tracking
If you’ve watched an MLB game on TV lately, you’ve probably noticed that they have a ton of cool graphics and visual tools that can be used to track the ball and show different movements. Well, at the heart of these tools is big data.
Strike zone tracking is the technology with the most potential. Pitchf/x technology is currently installed in all 30 MLB stadiums and can precisely tell when a pitch is a ball or strike. While umpires are still making judgment calls, it’s not out of the question to see automated ball and strike calls in the future.
Football Helmet Sensors
One of the most valuable applications of big data in sports comes in the form of equipment sensors. More than 20 colleges – including programs like North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and UCLA – are using helmet sensors that alert medical personnel to potentially harmful head trauma or concussions. While the NFL has yet to adopt this technology, the 2016 season could be the year that these sensors move beyond the college level.
Predictive Insight Into Fan Preferences
Analytics are used to power marketing and advertising efforts in just about every industry. So, it would make sense that the sports business field would want to leverage big data for better insight into fan preferences and behaviors. While these technologies are taking baby steps, it’s possible that – in the future – teams can better know their fans and better cater to them.
“It’s about knowing when a fan is interested in an opposing team coming to town or whether a 4 p.m. game is not too late for them,” says John Forese of LiveAnalytics, a data and research company that’s closing working with sports. “It’s about hitting them with that communication when they are in the decision mindset and giving season ticket holders more incentive to keep coming and retain their tickets.”
Big Data is Fueling a Sports Revolution
When you look at sports like football, basketball, baseball, and soccer – which are all centuries old – innovation isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. For fans and athletes, it’s all about protecting the integrity of the game. However, big data has produced a number of positive changes. Access to technology has changed these games for the better and those who follow closely are excited about the potential for future innovation.