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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.