Big data has uprooted longstanding practices in industries ranging from retail to banking, so it's not surprising that it's affected sports too. Here are three ways that it has made a major impact on the industry.
Improving recruitment decisions about college athletes
People who play sports in college have opportunities to get some of their college expenses paid for via sports-related scholarships. Star athletes can increase a school's prominence too, especially if they lead teams to championship wins.
Some universities are aiming to boost the chances of finding the next athletic superstars by using big data algorithms. One is the University of Virginia. It has algorithms that predict a football player's likelihood of making it to the NFL or attending the University of Virginia instead of another school.
Then, recruiters know how and where to focus their energy and other resources. Although this method might uncover surprising and helpful findings, it's also crucial that recruiting professionals don't become overly reliant on conclusions from a database and overlook factors of an athlete not targeted by an algorithm.
Enhancing fan experiences
Live games pepper the memories of many sports enthusiasts, whether those people see amateur teams or professional ones. But there's a trend associated with some sports where live game attendance is down. The issue hasn't caused a widespread panic yet, but some stadiums and teams are tapping into big data resources to figure out how to keep fans happy.
The company responsible for stocking the merchandise stands at a stadium might use big data to analyze the most popular items, down to the colors and sizes. Then when fans decide they want to splurge on branded products, it's more likely for the stuff they want to be in plentiful supply.
Another way to enhance the fan experience with big data is to assess which games might sell out faster than usual and target repeat ticket buyers with notifications that recommend acting fast to avoid missing out on the events they want to see.
Big data can reduce hassles that tarnish a fan's outing too, such as finding a parking place. If an arena has several lots, a traffic analysis can direct parking managers on where to send incoming cars to avoid delays as fans arrive. Distributing the automobiles across numerous areas can also help prevent problems as fans leave after a game.
All data collection practices must be carried out strategically in line with any applicable data privacy regulations while making sure fans don't feel that the techniques are invasive.