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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 September 13, 2016 by

Sport analytics careers: 5 skills college grads should master for career success

Young businesswoman explaining graph to business team

Young businesswoman explaining graph to business team. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The field of sport analytics is growing, fast, and colleges, universities – and employers, are taking note. In fact, Syracuse University’s Falk College recently announced the development and 2017 launch of a new Bachelor of Science in Sport Analytics – the first undergraduate program of its kind in the country. The goal of the Syracuse University Sport Analytics program is to provide students with “a deep understandig of math, statistics, research methodology, sport economics, database management, finance, and computer programming integral to sport analytics. The degree also includes a mandatory foreign language requirement to prepare students for the global sport industry.”

The use of analytics in sport became popular with the release of the 2003 book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which showed how Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane used analytics, statistics, and data to assemble and develop a cash-strapped baseball team. In 2011, a movie by the same name was released, bringing the use of sport analytics to the big screen and to the attention of sports fans everywhere. Today, sports enthusiasts are focusing on sport analytica careers as a way to gain employment with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, WNBA, MLS, and other professional or minor league sports franchises, or businesses within the sports industry. The College Recruiter profile titled Sports analytics careers: Recent college grad discusses keys to success, provided an insight into what it takes to succeed in sport analytics careers. In addition, it’s no secret employers in all industries, in and outside the world of sports, are using analytics to recruit and hire college students and recent college grads. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the sport industry generated just under $500 billion in 2014-15 – making it the fifth largest economic sector in the U.S. economy. BLS data also revealed that jobs within the field of “data analyst” are growing at a rate of 27 percent per year – which is more than double the 11 percent national job growth average.

But when talking to Rodney Paul, a Syracuse University Sports Economics Professor and Sports Analytics Program Director who, along with Syracuse University Professor Michael Veley, researched and designed the curriculum for the Syracuse University Sport Analytics bachelor’s degree program, one thing stands out:

The focus of the program isn’t all about sports.

“To use a sports analogy, we want to develop a true 5-tool player,” says Paul. “We want graduates of our sport analytics program to be well-versed in a wide variety of core competencies relative to what is needed to succeed in a career in sport analytics.”

Those five key skills that the Syracuse University Sport analytics program will focus on include:

Mathematics: At some point, it became acceptable for high school and college students to stop challenging themselves with math, says Paul. That’s because math is hard, and requires strong analytical skills. But those who relish the challenges of math, and the analytical and critical thinking skills required to succeed in math, are on the right path to a successful career in sport analytics. “Math is difficult,” says Paul. “But the more you understand math, the more you can learn, and challenge yourself, the deeper one can dive into sport analytics.”

Computer/Information Technology Systems: Programming skills, knowing how to code, database management – proficiency in these areas and other industry technology/software programs is crucial. This is always evolving and will continue to change, but knowing the basics of key industry programs is a must. Showing one can apply these technical skills, and learn new skills/programs on an ongoing basis is going to be important for ongoing career growth.

Business Economics: A strong business acumen, and understanding of economics, and how it applies to sports is important.

Communication: Soft skills are important in the field of sport analytics. Professionals must have strong interpersonal, and communication skills to work within a team, with a diverse group of co-workers, clients, vendors, or colleagues. Being able to communicate data, analytics, and the theories behind sport analytics to co-workers, clients, prospects, senior management, and members of your team are integral to career success. This is true in any industry, sport analytics included.

Foreign Language: Sport analytics careers are available worldwide. Think about this, Paul says: The KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) is widely known as “the Russian professional hockey league.” But, in reality, the 29 teams are based in Belarus, China, Croatia, Finland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia, and Slovakia, and expansion to other countries is likely. Major League Baseball has a large presence in Latin America. The NBA brand is exploding in China. The NFL is playing games in Europe. The NHL has a worldwide presence. Soccer? It always has been an international game.

“Sport industry executives repeatedly tell us that students who are bilingual are highly sought after, especially in growth areas including South America, China and India,” said Falk College Dean Diane Lyden Murphy.

The core curriculum of the Syracuse Sport Analytics program includes a focus on principles of research methodology, sport economics, database management, finance, computer mathematics, statistics and economics. Upon graduation, students will be prepared to think conceptually and analytically while applying these principles to real issues in sport organizations. The Syracuse Sport Analytics program prepares students for a variety of different possible analytics career paths on the player evaluation side, business side, or both, says Paul.

“Sports is the central part of all this and what ties students together,” says Paul, “but developing these skill sets is what is needed to launch a successful career in sport analytics.”

Sport analytics careers are growing at a rapid rate. Master these five key skills to get ahead in the fast-growing field of sport analytics. Want to learn more about trends in sport analytics careers? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Rodney Paul, Sports economist and program director for the Syracuse University Sport Analytics bachelors degree program.

Rodney Paul, Syracuse University

Rodney Paul, is a Syracuse University Sports Economics Professor and Sports Analytics Program Director who, along with Syracuse University Professor Michael Veley, researched and designed the curriculum for the Syracuse University Sport Analytics bachelor’s degree program.