Student Perspective: Data Analytics is Changing the Game

By Olivia Bumgardner on April 23, 2018

SABR

Data analytics is changing the structure of competitive professional sports both on and off the field. Utilizing data science and analytics to win games has caused an uproar amongst sport fans and spectators alike and there’s no doubt trend will continue to rise.

Methods used to evaluate talented players and coaches have undergone a transformation.The ability to discover and apply patterns found throughout data research has reformed how teams assess players and develop on-field strategies.

As other industries are utilizing data to connect and reach a larger audience, the sport industry uses analytics to enhance every aspect of the game from player performance to the fan experience and everything in between. Individuals who possess a firm understanding of data analytics are highly valued within sport businesses. This range of skill sets is becoming highly sought after by sport business employers.

Recognizing this need, the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) hosts an annual analytics conference which brings together the top minds of the baseball analytic community to discuss and analyze the game of baseball.

This past March, two students from Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) attended the 7th Annual SABR Analytics Conference to enhance their baseball operations and analytics knowledge.

Nicole Feliz and Lexi Brace, both juniors majoring in sport and recreation management at STHM, attended the three-day conference held at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. Feliz and Brace attended the conference as part of the MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Program. Two of 21 students selected by the MLB’s Department of Diversity & Inclusion, these students were able to travel and attend this conference at no cost and meet with front-office members from the Royals and Indians at their respective Spring Training sites.

The SABR conference, which included guest speakers, panels, research presentations, as well as various networking opportunities, revolved around assessing statistical analysis and learning how to apply big data to the sport industry.

The conference highlighted many exciting topics pertaining to sport analytics. Here are Feliz and Brace’s top 4 panels from the SABR Analytics Conference:

  1. MLB Network Brian Kenny and ESPN Broadcaster Jon “Boog” Sciambi discussed everything from the free-agent market this offseason to player development strategies in the front office and on the field. Check out the highlights of this discussion on the SABR website.
  2. Analytics in the broadcast booth was a hot topic during the “Is the Media Doing its Part to Advance the Analytics Discussion” panel. ESPN broadcaster Jon “Boog” Sciambi, Eno Sarris of The Athletic and baseball author Rob Neyer shared insight into how analytics play a role in media.
  3. Jeremy Booth, CEO of the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series, and Matt Reiland, data consultant and operator of Power Alley Analytics, discuss new ways to develop and evaluate the skills of aspiring professional baseball players during the Technology Panel.
  4. The Pitching Panel featured a former Cy Young Award winner who shared his side of the story in a memorable duel with baseball’s all-time home run champion Barry Bonds and a pitcher-turned-executive talked about using analytics on the mound.

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