Big Data: The Big Game Changer

June 13, 2014

If you’re a sports fan the next two months will be a golden period for watching sport with the FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon and the Commonwealth Games all taking place. Here are our top three predictions about how Big Data will be a big game changer for these events and how it will affect the future of sport.

1. Better Analytics: There is now a wealth of sports statistics about specific games and players accessible for managers, broadcasters, players and fans alike with real-time data easily accessible. Some of this technology is already enriching fans experiences, and for Wimbledon this year fans will be able to use IBM’s ‘SlamTracker’, which is based on 41 million data points and monitors players’ aces, serve speed, patterns of play, players’ styles, past winners and other key statistics in real time.We live in a multi-stimulus age and fans want real data on not just what is happening, but why. We predict big data will greatly enhance fan experiences in the future, whether this is through Google Glass giving real time data, or having sensors in balls so that fans can be attuned to how weather conditions will affect the curve or bounce of the ball.


2. Wearable Technologies:  With team players now equipped with wearable technologies coaches can track their heart rate, lung capacity, metabolism, velocity and distance travelled. Decisions about match substitutions are no longer made by who’s looking tired on the pitch, there’re influenced by real-time biometric data helping managers make informed decisions and prevent players from over-exerting themselves and risking injuries. For conflict sports, such as boxing, this data will be vital to avoid injuries and determine whether fights should be continued.

Big data will not impact live sporting events but can optimise training schedules and impact future strategies and tactics. With ‘smart short’ and ‘smart socks’ already being developed, soon data on muscle fatigue, muscle balance and even if a player has cramp will be available for coaches.


 3.Hiring Decisions: In the future we predict that it will be the analytics experts who are the managers and trainers. In sport it is often the smallest changes that make the biggest difference, with sports writer David Epstein explaining “the difference between legendary and anonymity in elite sports is usually less than one percent” and only 0.5 percent separates Usain Bolt from that runner you’ve never heard of (Source: Strata Conf. ‘Making Data Work). It is only through understanding this vast amount of data properly that it can be effectively applied.

Sport is a big business that is perfect for big data. With huge amounts of money invested in big sporting events there are definitely the resources available to utilise big data effectively. Some sports, such as Formula One Racing are already applying this data to great success, others are slower to adopt these changes, but it’s only a matter of time until big data starts being a big game changer for every sport.


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