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2 Ways Big Data Is Used in Sports

Sport is full of highs and lows; victories and losses, euphoria and heartbreak. However, emotions aside, the sports market is still a business and a very profitable one at that, with an estimated worth of over $1 trillion USD globally.

This thriving industry presents a lucrative opportunity to integrate big data, a notion that is evident in the recent surge in data and performance analysis across all sports. As other industries use data to engage with their audiences, the sports industry is following suit to the benefit of the player, fan, and organization.

So how exactly can big data, and data centers as a consequence, enhance a game of football for example? Let’s examine some of the uses of data in sports.

In-Game Data Collection and Analysis

The collection and analysis of in-game data is probably the most common use of data in sports. You only need to watch a game of football to be greeted with a whole host of in-game, real-time statistics, from possession share and number of turnovers to individual player performance stats such as interceptions and total yards.

But this data collection is not just for our benefit, ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and connected devices are used by both teams and individual athletes to process data with the aim of optimizing training regimes, recruiting new players, or reducing injuries. Since 2017, the official player association for the NFL partnered with WHOOP, a wearable also used in the MLB, to track criteria such as how much sleep a player gets and what their recovery rate is post-workout.

However, the data collected via these devices is of no use without the necessary analysis, it has to be stored and processed quickly and securely… and this is where data centers become the real MVP. In a climate where statistics play an increasingly more important role in sports, choosing the right data center infrastructure is almost as important to a team’s success as signing a new quarterback!

Improving the Spectator Experience

Arenas and stadiums can also harness the power of big data and sports analytics to their benefit. Fans, now accustomed to increasingly more personalized and immersive sporting experiences, seek the same engagement when they abandon their armchair for the real deal. So, in a bid to attract new spectators and keep their existing fan base engrossed, sporting venues are turning to connected stadium technologies from reliable, high-speed Wi-Fi to bespoke apps for game day services such as parking and traffic alerts.

More recently, voice-controlled devices and “smart assistants” are also being used to offer a more premium fan experience, with Alexa leading the way. At Safeco Field, the home of the Seattle Mariners, fans in each of the 59 suites can now use Alexa to order food, change TV channels, play music and much more.

Whilst these services offer fans personalization and immersion like never before, they also enable companies to analyze the interests, viewing tendencies, and buying behaviors of their audience, in turn helping them refine their targeting with regard to tailored products and offers. In-game data analysis and spectator experience personalization are just a couple of the ways in which data is being used to transform the sports industry. But we haven’t even scratched the surface, big data is paving the way for a future of immersive, customized sporting experiences. With the market rapidly evolving and sport and data set to become ever-increasingly intertwined, data center providers can’t afford to make mistakes when it comes to performance, reliability and security.

With decades of expertise in the design and manufacture of network solutions, AFL has the capabilities and infrastructure to rapidly deliver pioneering, scalable network connectivity solutions across the globe to support growing data center networks.