How advanced analytics are impacting sports

The expanding role of data analytics in a trillion-dollar industry.

By Janine Barlow
September 21, 2015
"Baseball Players Practicing," watercolor, by the American artist Thomas Eakins. "Baseball Players Practicing," watercolor, by the American artist Thomas Eakins. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

Download our new free report “Data Analytics in Sports: How Playing with Data Transforms the Game,” by Janine Barlow, to learn how advanced predictive analytics are impacting the world of sports.

Sports are the perfect playing field on which data scientists can play their game — there are finite structures and distinct goals. Many of the components in sports break down numerically — e.g., number of players; length of periods; and, taking a broader view, how much each player is paid.

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This is why sports and data have gone hand-in-hand since the very beginning of the industry. What, after all, is baseball without baseball cards?

In a new O’Reilly report, Data Analytics in Sports: How Playing with Data Transforms the Game, we explore the role of data analytics and new technology in the sports industry. Through a series of interviews with experts at the intersection of data and sports, we break down some of the industry’s most prominent advances in the use of data analytics and explain what these advances mean for players, executives, and fans.

We’ve never before had the technology to single out some of the tiniest idiosyncrasies that make a player a titan of the league, or an amateur, but we’re getting there with products like SportVU software, used by the NBA to collect spatial analysis data, and Vantage Sports, a data platform for tracking and documenting player moves, with optical character recognition software that verifies and cleans the data. Beyond basketball, we explore how data analytics is crumbling long-standing myths about performance in soccer and how the National Football League is using wearable devices to collect vital health data about its players.

In an industry valued at $1.5 trillion globally, and $485 billion in the U.S. alone, with revenues making more than billion-dollar jumps every year, the potential impact of data analytics is more valuable than ever. Money aside, these technologies offer incomparable insights into the human body — not only for the benefit of scoring points on a field or court, but beyond — with the potential to impact other arenas, such as sports medicine and anatomical study.

Download the free report.

Post topics: Data science