“The score never interested me, only the game.”
-Mae West, Entertainer
SPORTS DATA COLLECTION
Mae West was known for several things, one of which was her comedic quotes. She had a way of tapping the nerve everyone knew was exposed and poking a little fun at it amidst the pain. The game she was mentioning was a bit different than those that companies like Minnesota’s own Sportradar are studying, but the truth is the same for both. For many people, the data, the game within the game, is more important and exciting than the scoreboard might reflect. Twin Cities Business recently ran a cover story on Sportradar. The goal was to look into the growing field of sports data collection, but with a Minnesota twist. Sportradar now owns deals with all major league sports including the NBA, NFL, NHL, and NASCAR.
WHY SPORTS DATA?
I don’t know about you, but the first thing that came to my mind was to remember how I used to look at the back of baseball and basketball cards as a kid. Stats interested me. I learned about all of the great players through cards and the stories other kids, parents, and grandparents told while showing me their cards. It was fascinating. Over the last several years I have been introduced to ESPN’s Sports Science. That started by chance. I was reading through my Facebook newsfeed (surprise, surprise) and there was a video clip of Ryan Mallett.
Anyone who knows me would tell you there is little to no way I could resist a video of one of the Razorback football greats in action. So I pressed on it and BOOM! My whole life changed as I was exposed to the science and technique that explained the cannon Mallett used to destroy SEC West opponents. Suddenly I saw him as not only gifted, but especially equipped to win big games. I also saw that what Mallett had could be studied, understood, harnessed, and either replicated, improved, or adjusted with other players. We could take in all the information, cut the good from the bad, and tighten up our processes to create “super teams” full of “super players”. There is your answer: Sports data matters because it can be employed to develop a better understanding of the players and games.
Some will use it to gamble as TCBMag reported. Others will use it to scout. The leagues will likely use it to fine tune the game and enhance the experience. Owners will use it to make trades, interpret stadium design, and get the right amount for contracts. Coaches will use it to grow their players, improve their systems and strategies, and prepare for their competition. TV stations will use it to get the right angles and pick the best matchups. There are a variety of ways to use the data, but at the end of the day knowledge is power and “knowing is half the battle”, right?
For Minnesota business owners this is just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone knows Fortune 100, 500, and 1000 companies love Minnesota. Not only that, but Minnesota is home to a wide variety of professional sports franchises from the Lynx and Timberwolves to the Twins and Vikings. Minnesota is also home to some of the biggest names in data including Sportradar. Times have changed. We aren’t just looking at a few key stats like an ERA on the back of a baseball card. We now have access to the angle, speed, force, and success rate by player and inning that tells us how that ERA happened. Now we just have to learn how to apply it. Knowledge is one thing, application another. I don’t know about you, but I think I’m starting to see what Mae saw. Let the games begin.