Big Data, Big Sports

Data has always been stored by businesses. Why is it so different now? Essentially, all this data was floating around and people simply did not know what to do with it all. The introduction of ‘Big Data’ as a categorisation of absolutely all data ever stored by a business has brought the importance of analytics to the forefront of strategy. It is the aggregation and analysis of data to optimise performance, through finding key trends and patterns. How is this concept transforming modern society?
 
You could argue that organisations have, to a certain extent, always used stored data to help strategize for the future. However, it is all about the metrics that you don’t see, the ones you are not specifically looking for, that seem to come to focus and make all the difference to a business. This is where the value of big data comes in.
 
The impact of big data can be seen across a wide range of different business and social sectors. For example, Netflix have used their big data analytics to become the revolutionary force they are today. There is one particular area that has always reflected modern society: sports. Sport not only adapts to change, it also drives change. Big data is now a prominent part of the sporting industry and we are going to look at how, considering athletes may be seen as the last people you would expect to be beneficiaries of data and statistics.
 
The days when any major sport is purely played on the field are over. Many, if not most teams are now employing data specialists responsible for interpreting advanced statistics, on and off the field.

New sophisticated ways of monitoring and capturing volumes of data are being implemented. Cameras, sensors and wearables record every aspect of player performance to better athletes’ biomechanics. It allows the capturing of statistics that were never analysed before, which gives elite competitors that cutting edge. Additionally, analysing the data gathered off the pitch, you gain better insights into players’ training routines, diet, and lifestyle. All these can be put together to better performance, as well as reduce chance of injury.
 
So, is big data going to completely transform and command executive decisions? Unlikely. There will always be an element of resistance to change, along with those who do not believe such mechanics should be brought into a natural industry such as sports. However, the intention of analytics is not to make sport mechanical, it comes with the main intention to aid athletic performance and enhance the experience. To conclude, big data is likely to inform the sport industry, rather than dictate to it, leading to more skilled play on the field, higher standards of sportsmanship and a more dynamic experience for the fans.