Sportspersons are of two kinds: the regular players and Geeky sportsperson, the backhand of modern sports industry. With a professional training in numbers or statistics, these unsung heroes work at real time to make our live cricket match more impressive and interesting. Performance statistics like number of catches, avg. run rate, strike rate, req. run rate, whatever you see on your television screen, is done by statisticians who had a similar training as the cricketers but leaning more towards the mental labour.
With a better understanding of numbers and an alarmingly increasing reliance on data, sports is not anymore a monogamous marriage with mere skills of sportspersons. Numbers have lot to do with sports training and the relevant public engagement in such modern sports industry. Well since an industry can be understood as an institution of mere profit, so the ‘public engagement’ in the previous statement can not only be justified but cannot be ignored even.
Professional Sports and its marriage with statistics
Modern sports is a nuptial relationship of sport skills and statistics as the latter can be used in effective decision making (based on real time data analysis) on playing strategy and player recruitment. Today, sports is not a show of skills between two players or teams; it is an employer; well, it is a big time employer with great returns. “Wider businesses such as sports media and broadcasting have a substantial interest in utilising robust statistical tools and methodology to drive fan engagement and customer satisfaction. For other related businesses, such as sports betting, statistical modelling and data science continues to be integral to successful operation.”
Good use of statistics can make any competition feasible across space and time. Based on the comparison of performances of their current rivals, or even a different time span, players or teams can analyse the statistics of past in order to determine the very next step. “The use of statistics and records allows them to know when they have reached it or how far away they might be. Of course, this requires that they use the best measures and look at them the right way.’’
Two dimensions of statistics in sports:
In modern sports industry data analytics is being used extensively. Application of such analysis can be applied to an individual player; recording player’s information and improvement suggestions; breakdown of such individual information in various formats; which further can be compared easily with that of other players at any space or time.
Statistics in sports have two dimensions: one is related to the sportspersons and other with businesses such as sports media and broadcasters. Statistics for sportspersons can be taken as an effective way for enhancement of performance and skills of players based on concrete and relevant data. However, the latter is related to the digital world that we see through news channels and sports broadcasters. Statistician’s role is ever increasing in sports broadcast and such expression through user friendly charts and graphs makes a match more interesting, where a viewer can even judge performance of two playing batsmen.
An illustration to explain the use of Data Analytics in sports:
Let’s take an example of a non- performing cricket bowler to understand the relationship of statistics and sports. By the application of data analytics to the bowler’s performance a better and even a detailed view can be obtained. The correlation of the type of pitch and bowler’s performance on them can be obtained which will further help the coach in making the bowler’s practice more effective, in accordance of the individual needs. It will give a pictorial representation of the bowler’s performance in different conditions and further the player can easily access the areas where he/she needs to improve upon. The application of data analytics is not just related to the individual per se, but also includes other important parameters like field information, climate and other ground information.
How to become a Geeky Sportsperson:
- All you need is to learn about statistics; a bachelor degree program in statistics might do. This course provides understanding about Random Variables, different type of distribution, confidence Intervals, Expected Values etc., which will be helpful in understanding statistical inferences.
- Learn about MS Excel, maybe an online through MOOC. Such courses will provide an understanding of power of Excel in action and their ability to summarize data in flexible ways, enabling quick exploration of data and producing valuable insights from the accumulated data.
- Learn a programming language and statistics analytical software.
- One can also work on several online projects to get an insight of it.
- Last but not the least, a master’s degree program in statistics or Sports analytics course(currently unavailable in India) can make you dexter in the field.
- Emailing your CV.
A degree in statistics can get you a decent job as a sports analyst with a hefty pay, but yes there is no as such fame rewarded in the end, unlike the captains brandishing their trophies and kissing them. You might not be able to reach the field, but you i.e a sports analyst is connected to the coach, in order to help him make better live time decisions and write histories. Imagine the game theorist behind war strategies, not to be named but only to be remembered.
Sports is not just a match between historically fictitious Ali v/s Tyson; without a digital comparison through numbers such bout can never catch the eye of the hungry viewers of this fast paced century. However, a statistician or sports analyst with a better and expensive pair of contact lenses (gone are those days of thick glasses) can make up a better team of the sports industry.