Big Data – An ultimate weapon in the field of sports?

Sectors | Sports   |   
Published August 20, 2014   |   

Sports has always been associated with tons of statistics about players, teams, and performances, and this information has been used to a limited extent in the past to improve games. Today, the picture is completely different thanks to big data, the technology that has changed the face of sporting. It has impacted both players’ performance and viewers’ experience in more ways than we can imagine, and in the process, it has taken the field of sports to new levels  The vast usage of statistics makes big data the perfect technology partner for sports because now, it is possible for teams to collect vast amounts of data through multiple channels, and more importantly, put them to good use.

Below are some positive impacts of big data on different sections of the sporting fraternity.

Improved performance for teams and players

The biggest impact of big data has been on player performance because this technology has made it possible for teams to collect footage of every action and movement of players. A case in point is the SportVu service that was implemented in every NBA stadium in the US. Under this program, six cameras were installed in each location to accurately capture the movement of every player and ball in the playing arena. With this information, coaches analyze the strengths and weaknesses of opponents, and based on it, they create better strategies to win the game. Furthermore, this information gives players a better sense of where they falter, so they can work on these areas during the off-season.

Better judgments

Umpiring decisions are crucial as one wrong decision can alter the dynamics of the game. At the same time, it can be hard for referees because they have to make judgments in a split second, which means, there is always a chance for a wrong decision. To avoid such poor calls and to help referees make better decisions, big data technology can come in handy. For example, the Pitchf/x technology from Spotsvision has been installed in all the 30 MLB stadiums to track pitches, so it is easier to determine if a throw is a strike or a ball.

Besides providing real-time information to referees, these big data products provide information for analytics. Using this information, sports authorities can change the rules or bring in more appropriate tools needed to improve the overall spirit of the game.

Better experience for fans

Fans are the heart of any sport, so it is important to sustain their interest and keep them happy. This is where big data comes in. Analytics about fans’ behavior can offer insights into their needs and expectations, based on which, appropriate changes can be made to meet their expectations.

In fact, big data can be used in a myriad of ways to keep fans engaged. Sports bodies can better schedule matches when they know what time works best for its audience. For example, if professional sports bodies know that audiences in one city prefer a 4 PM game and those of another city prefer a 7 PM game,  then they can schedule games accordingly to maximize viewership. Other than scheduling, big data analytics can also be used to increase the viewing experience in stadiums by directing fans to the bathrooms with the smallest queue or the less-crowded escalator.

More information for analysts and commentators

Games can be scrutinized to greater depths than before because of the vast amounts of information available today. Big data products such as IBM’s Slam Tracker provides point-by-point analytics of tennis matches to give analysts the pleasure of dissecting every stroke and point.

Such vast amounts of information also give commentators more options to enthrall their audience, especially during slow moments in a game.

In short, big data is the ultimate weapon in the field of sports that has the power to enhance professionalism and to make it more enjoyable than before.