As the sporting industry becomes steadily more reliant upon big data, sports enthusiasts worry that the nature of the game is changing. With team success reduced to a formula on a computer, is big data taking the excitement out of sports, or is it merely upping the competition?
What is Big Data?
Big data is a term used to describe the exercise of mining large and complex data. Big data is in the process of making a major breakthrough in the sporting industry, with prominent scientists using analyses drawn from big data to predict strike zone precision, athlete performance, and game outcomes. As big data analytics becomes ever more precise, influential sports franchises are implementing it to evaluate up and coming players and influence coaching decisions.
Who is Using Big Data?
Paraag Marathe, team president of the San Francisco 49ers, says that good data insights can make or break a player being hired or a coach being fired. The 49ers are not alone in using big data to deliberate major team decisions. Amongst NFL leaders, the decision is unanimous--big data is here to stay. Using on-staff data analytics teams, sports franchises in basketball, baseball, football, gymnastics and hockey leagues are using big data to get ahead of the game.
How is Big Data Affecting Sports Today?
In baseball, big data has been around for a while, recently achieving levels of precision that have fans worrying that it could soon ruin the game altogether. One of the big changes that data analytics has prompted is what fans call “the defensive shift.” Instead of positioning players traditionally, coaches are using big data to boost performance by placing players where they are statistically most likely to catch the ball. The art has become so precise that there are fewer wild scrambles for the ball, fewer on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, and altogether fewer memorable games. In the baseball league, big data comes from Industries such as Pennsylvania-based Baseball Info Solutions. These industries collect and interpret player statistics, then sell on their findings to major baseball franchises, college leagues and enthusiastic fantasy teams.
Big Data and Sporting Equipment
In sporting goods equipment, big data is also beginning to play a roll. In high-end athletics equipment development, analytics are being used to create clothing, shoes, helmets and hockey sticks that are statistically beneficial to players. Running shoes are becoming more aerodynamic, helmets are offering better protection, and swimsuits are becoming more water resistant. Wearables are also used as a form of big data collection. Utilizing smart technology sensors, big data companies are drawing performance statistics from gadgets implanted in player shoes, watches and wristbands.
What Does Big Data Mean for the Future of the Sporting Industry?
In sports where precision is desirable for fans--notably gymnastics and ice skating--big data could function to take the beauty, elegance and intensity of the sports to an unprecedented level. In sports such as baseball, football and basketball, big data may intensify the competition between leagues, bringing performance standards to a record-breaking high, but, as many fans fear, it could also compromise some of the excitement and unpredictability that draws us to competitive sports in the first place. With big data in the sporting industry still a relatively new venture, fans must wait with baited breath to see what the future holds. Both big data supporters and naysayers alike agree, however, that big data is here to stay.