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Posted October 21, 2016 by

10 unique career paths for college grads pursuing sport analytics careers

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The interest in sport analytics careers is growing at a rapid rate. So much that Syracuse University now offers an undergraduate degree in the field of sport analytics. College Recruiter profiled Syracuse University sports economist and analytics professor Rodney Paul, and he discussed the five skills college grads should master for success in a career in sport analytics.

While much of the focus is how sport analytics is impacting professional sports, the reality is different. Not everyone working in sport analytics works in professional sports. In fact, there are more sports analytics jobs outside sports organizations such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, WNBA, and MLS than there are inside those organizations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, data analytics jobs are growing at a rate of 27 percent annually, far exceeding the national job growth average of 11 percent. The sport industry is the fifth-largest economic sector in the U.S. economy, generating slightly less than $500 billion in 2014-15. Taking things a step further, The Sports Analytics Market Shares, Strategies, and Forecasts, Worldwide, 2015 to 2021 research report valued the sports analytics market size at $125 million in 2014, but anticipated growth to reach $4.7 billion by 2021.

Below, we look at some sport analytics career paths to pursue if you have a background in analytics or data science. This field is constantly changing so there are job titles that haven’t been created yet. But getting started in these career paths are sure to help catapult a career in sport analytics:

1. Fantasy sports industry
The fantasy sports industry is booming, and so are organizations that use data and analytics to help fantasy sports players make data-driven decisions. How so? Learn more in this profile of a recent college graduate working for a sports analytics company that provides data and analytics-driven analysis to college and professional sports organizations – and fantasy football players.

2. Sports media industry
Sure, organizations like ESPN and Fox Sports hire analytics experts to make game predictions. But they are also using data and analytics to drive content-based decisions. John Wildhack, Executive Vice President, Programming and Production, ESPN, said this in an article discussing the Syracuse University undergraduate degree in sport analytics: “Increasingly, analytics are an integral part of many of our content offerings, both in the linear and digital space. As sports teams and leagues invest in analytics, it will create and drive content.”

3. Weather-related technology
Howard Hamilton is the founder and CEO of Soccermetrics Research LLC. He leads algorithm and software development of advanced team and player performance metrics, and is an internationally-recognized thought leader on the current and future state of soccer analytics. He is working on a project that uses analytics and data to decipher the outcome weather has on outdoor sporting events, such as soccer.

4. Retail industry
Under Armour is the fastest growing sports clothing and accessories company in the world. But as pointed out in this article, “the company appears to be looking to change the way athletes train and perform using data analytics.”

Nick Carparelli Jr., is senior director of college sports for UNDER ARMOUR®, and he sits on Syracuse University’s Falk College’s Sport Management Advisory Board.

“The process of making sound business choices always starts with investigation and research,” said Carparelli. “Effectively analyzing data, whether it be information about purchase intent from our consumers or a marketing evaluation on a prospective partner, is a critical next step in any decision making process. The ability to process and understand that information is a necessary skill set in our industry.”

5. Food and beverage industry
In 2014 Levy Restaurants announced the launch of E15, a subsidiary that provides advanced analytics services to sports, entertainment, and hospitality and retail organizations. E15 uses advanced intelligence to optimize user experiences and financial performance to other sports and entertainment venues, operations and teams, in addition to retail and hospitality clients. For example, E15 can provide data to professional sports teams to analyze how the score of a game, time of day or night, or other factors that impact a fans in-game food and beverage purchases.

6. Golf industry
Mark Broadie is a Carson Family Professor of Business and vice dean at the Columbia Business School in New York City, and the creator of the “strokes gained” method, which crunches mountains of data to show both professional and amateur golfers how to make better decisions on the course. Broadie wrote the book Every Shot Counts, where he uses analytics from the financial world to uncover secrets of the game of golf. Other companies like ShotLink use an analytics platform for collecting and disseminating scoring and statistical data on every shot by every player in real-time. For example, with ShotLink data, golfers can compare shots of 100 golfers who had a similar shot in the same location on the same course that a professional or amateur golfer does. Another company, 15th Club, focuses on “helping golfers win by applying intelligence and context to data.”

7. Health and wellness: Health care companies and sports injury specialists are using analytics to help analyze, determine – and yes, predict how, when and why sports injuries occur.

8. Corporate brand engagement: Want to work for an advertising agency? Using analytics and data can help you gain that coveted corporate sponsorship, or develop a brand campaign that helps a company and sports organization maximize exposure and sales.

9. High school sports recruiting and scouting: Analytics are already commonplace in professional and collegiate scouting. NCSA – National Collegiate Scouting Association, which specializes in recruiting, scouting and connecting high school athletes, is searching for a data analyst to help use analytics in a wide variety of scouting areas.

10. Mobile technology: No surprise here – mobile technology and sports are interconnected. Every sports organization is constantly seeking the latest in greatest in integrating fan engagement with a mobile experience that connects fans to their favorite sports team.

Sport analytics careers are hot, and they are changing fast. These are just a few of the many growing opportunities and sport analytics career paths to pursue. Those pursuing careers in sport analytics can benefit from following other resources such as the industry-leading MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and by staying connected to College Recruiter. To do so, visit our blog, and connect with us on LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Posted August 30, 2012 by

22.3 Million Americans About to Waste Work Time on Fantasy Football Preparations

NFL fans cheeringWith less than two weeks to go before the opening kick-off in the National Football League season, the estimated 22.3 million employed Americans who participate in fantasy football leagues will undoubtedly spend several hours in the coming days fine-tuning their draft selections and opening-day rosters.  Unfortunately for the nation’s employers, some of the time spent on player research may come during business hours.

According to a very rough, non-scientific, non-verifiable estimate, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., if 22.3 million American workers spend one hour each week managing their fantasy football team during the average 15-week fantasy football season, the cost to the nation’s employers in terms of wages paid to unproductive workers could approach $6.5 billion.

“Before fantasy football players around the country launch a letter-writing campaign lambasting our numbers, it is important to realize that even if this figure was verifiable and accurate, it would not even register as a blip on the economic radar,” said noted John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. (more…)

Posted August 30, 2011 by

More Than 21 Million Workers Play Fantasy Sports; Should Employers Worry?

Is your obsession with fantasy sports costing your employer too much company time?

With less than two weeks to go before the opening kick-off in the National Football League season, fantasy football participants across the country are undoubtedly spending more time than usual fine-tuning their draft selections and rosters due to a lock-out shortened pre-season.  Unfortunately for the nation’s employers, some of the extra time spent on player research may come during business hours.

However, even with an estimated 21.3 million full-time workers participating in fantasy sports each year, with some spending as much as nine hours per week managing their teams, the impact on overall workplace productivity is negligible, according to the workplace experts at global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“In an information-based economy, productivity is very difficult to measure.  And the same widespread access to the internet from our desks, phones and laptops that allows people to manage their fantasy teams from any place at any time, also allows work to be completed outside of traditional 9-to-5 work hours,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

According to statistics from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, the number of people participating in fantasy sports in the United States and Canada has grown 60 percent over the past four years to 32 million.  The Association’s research indicates that 19 percent of full-time workers in the U.S. have played fantasy sports in the past year.  That comes to about 21,253,000 workers.

Football is, of course, the most popular fantasy sport, played by roughly 80 percent of all fantasy sports participants.  According to market research, players spend up to nine hours a week planning and plotting their strategies for weekly matchups in 70 million free and paid leagues (the average player belongs to 2.5 leagues).

“It is impossible to determine how much of that weekly prep time is spent during work hours.  It is even more difficult to determine how time spent managing teams during work hours actually impacts productivity or the company’s bottom line,” said Challenger.

“If you look at a company’s third and fourth quarter earnings statements, it is unlikely that you will find a fantasy football effect.  The impact is more likely to be seen by department managers and team leaders, who have a better sense of their workers’ day-to-day work flow.  Even at level, though, it might not be worth cracking down on fantasy football, unless the quantity or quality of an individual’s work drops off significantly,” he added.

A survey conducted during the 2010 football season by Challenger found that fantasy football had little to no impact on productivity.  Ranking the level of distraction on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no noticeable impact, nearly 70 percent said four or lower.  Less than eight percent of respondents said the level of distraction rated a 7 or 8 and none of the respondents felt the phenomenon deserved a 9 or 10.

“An across-the-board ban on all fantasy football or sports websites could backfire in the form of reduced morale and loyalty.  The result could be far worse than the loss of productivity caused by 10 to 20 minutes of team management each day.

“Companies that not only allow workers to indulge in fantasy football, but actually encourage it by organizing company leagues are likely to see significant benefits in morale as well as productivity,” Challenger said. “In the long run, this may lead to increased employee retention.”

In a 2006 Ipsos survey, 40 percent of respondents said fantasy sports participation was a positive influence in the workplace.  Another 40 percent said it increases camaraderie among employees.  One in five said their involvement in fantasy sports enabled them to make a valuable business contact.

Furthermore, a more recent study by researchers at the National University of Singapore found that occasional non-work-related web browsing at the office can refresh tired workers and enhance overall productivity.

Despite evidence of fantasy football’s positive impact on the workplace, less than eight percent those surveyed by Challenger last season said their companies “embrace” fantasy football participation as a morale-boosting activity and none of the employers reported officially organized leagues.