Table of Contents
Lets start with the story of Babe Ruth. The “Babe” used to come to every at bat with the desire to win the game. So early in the game, aware that at the end of the game it would fall on him to win the game, the “Babe” would deliberately strike out on pitches that he really could hit. Later in the game, the pitcher would remember the pitches that had gotten the “Babe” out and “Babe Ruth” could hit with ease, winning the game defying the statisticians. So, Babe Ruth used sports analytics in the 1930’s in reverse, hoping to entice the pitcher to throw that very pitch he could hit in a tight situation later in the game. His very success illustrates that in sports analytics sophistication is needed. For sports analytics to track Babe Ruth, it would have been necessary to look at the pitches he could hit at the end of the game, not just everything that came at him. How sophisticated is that? You have to know your players to do good sports analytics. Babe Ruth is at the center of one of the sad stories of sporting in Boston. The Boston Red Sox baseball team, in 2003, had not won a world series since Babe Ruth was sold to New York, the so called “Curse of the Bambino.” John Henry, a financial analytics wizard came along and purchased the Boston Red Sox along with other partners and he took the team to three world series using sports analytics as the dominant force for running the team and building fan enthusiasm.
Sport analytics are about patterns, detecting patterns and attaching value to them by being able to predict better what players will succeed and what players will do well in a certain system. The patterns apply to teams, to players and to fans. The data about the sport is relevant in a lot of different ways, some teams are more able than others to harness the patterns to their benefit. Does it make a difference? Do the teams with better analytics win? Apparently so. The MIT sports analytics conference is a testament to the value of technology in sports. In hockey, analytics has been adopted big time, the trend this summer of 2015 has been for NHL clubs to hire bloggers and website operators so their content is proprietary.
Play of the Game is what makes sports entertainment, and the players entertainers. Hockey is a particularly appealing sport because it has so much player contact. It is a contact sport. Some of the better plyers play with finesse. Ovechkin for example, who had 27 even-strength goals this season (fifth in the league) and who scored a league-leading 24 power play goals is fun to watch. He is a premier player because of style and this makes him a fan favorite. According to Susan Eustis, principal author of the market research study, “Sports teams have discovered that with intelligent use of sports analytics they can dominate a league. As the early adopters prove that analytics makes the
difference between winning and losing, all teams, mangers, and fantasy sports players need to adopt use of the solutions creating market growth opportunities. .”
Sports analytics market size at $125 million in 2014 is anticipated to reach $4.7 billion by 2021. Significant growth is driven by the smart phone and social media in addition to cloud computing market penetration. With smart phones and tablets beginning to get significant uptake all over the world sports analytics play into that market expansion.
Growth is a result of sports league and team department efforts.
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