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It took Hollywood and Brad Pitt to make data science and sports mainstream. Moneyball, the 2011 blockbuster fuelled interest in the way data is used in sports. Since then many have employed the same, changing the way sports is played around the world.
How data science is making an impact on the field:
Arsenal, a team synonymous with numbers (particularly the number 4), has heavily invested in data science. They’re developing an analytics team to gather and make better use of the collected data. The Emirates Stadium has eight cameras, which track player movements and interactions to monitor their performance.
Like Arsenal, other football teams are also investing millions to increase the accuracy and value of data analysis. ‘All successful passes by Lionel Messi’ is among the types of metrics tracked. Off the ball events are on the tracking radar as well. The next time your favourite player scores, remember data science had a big-data role to play in it!
While cameras track football grounds, off the field athletes prefer various wearable tracking devices. The simplest example of a wearable device would be a Fitbit band. Most sports players are forbidden from wearing any device during a professional match. However, FIFA (international football’s governing body) now allows players to wear monitoring equipment during matches. In tennis too, players can use sensor-equipped racquets during games to record speed, power and spin of the ball. In other sports, players wear trackable devices during training.
Data can also help coaches make more informed decisions about or during a game. Coaches can select the best players, field the most effective teams and make smarter decisions on the field.
How data science is making an impact off the field:
Today, data analytics targets sports fans as well. Smartphones help collect data from fans. This, in turn, helps companies endorse or target fans with precision.
Data science has also helped professionalise sports by drawing contracts. In contract negotiations, players, coaches and teams use data to find evidence that supports contract demands.
The union between data science and sports supports the fact that sport is about humans competing on the track. There is a fear that sports will become more about a competition between data scientists than sportsmen.
Like any other sphere, sports has to progress. With the help of data science, sports will only get more competitive. Thanks to data science, athletes are now getting faster, stronger and sharper!