Baseball season officially starts March 2nd; I know this mainly because my 11-year old nephew lives, breathes and eats baseball. He’s a darn good Little League player and a huge Red Sox fan – for which I, a diehard Yankees fan have forgiven him. He’s a pretty smart kid anyway, but he knows enough statistics and facts to converse intelligently with any adult baseball aficionado.
All this information is just some of the ‘Big Data’ that sports churns out these days. While baseball cards still exist (though without the horrible pink gum I’ve been informed), there is no way all that data fits on the back of a card. These days information comes at you like a tsunami, thanks to the internet and real-time everything is at your fingertips. This is changing the way colleges and pro teams scout, recruit, trade and develop players in every sport. Whether motivated by profit or the quest for a win, greater efficiency, and increased accuracy, the sporting world is embracing big data to improve performance.
Data is content and content is king, and when you monetize that content it becomes a revenue stream. Now we have a dilemma, who owns the data and therefore the revenue stream; the athlete, the team, the league or who exactly? Fan communities are more data-driven than ever, especially with the increasing popularity of stats-heavy activities like fantasy leagues. The more real-time data sports commentators can feed to fans, the better the broadcasting experience for everyone. The value of big data in sports has a long reach.
Sports gambling is also being transformed by big data. Sports organizations have already embraced big data to study players and tactics, which means there’s a lot of data out there to collect and analyze. Using that data to predict sport outcomes has become a trendy way to generate buzz. Some gambling companies even boast a 90 percent accuracy rate, depending on the sport and the league. Most bookmakers, however, aren’t changing their traditional techniques. A lot of sports outcomes, according to the bookies, can be predicted based on just a few statistics. Whatever the case may be, many gamblers see big data as the way to swing the odds in their favor, which has led to the growing popularity of fantasy sports betting.
Big Data is clearly ‘changing the game’ for athletes, teams, leagues and gamblers. With so much information now being generated and gathered, it’s clear that the full impact will likely continue to be felt well into the future. Businesses are only just starting to get used to what big data can do, and once they’re more familiar with its capabilities, big data’s full potential will be unleashed. This is true for any business, nonprofit, college or pro sports, fantasy leagues, fans, and gamblers.