30Mar, 2022


How was big data in sports evolved over the years? Nowadays, big data has played an increasingly important role in almost every aspect of our lives. For example, companies have used big data to make better decisions, improve operations, and achieve a competitive edge in the business world. In the healthcare industry, healthcare providers have used to diagnose diseases and find new treatments. And even in our personal lives, big data has been used to track our daily activities, help us lose weight, and improve our overall well-being. So it’s no surprise that big data is also making its mark in the sports world.

This article will highlight the historical development of big data in sports, statistics on the growth of big data in sports, the current role of big data in sports, and some trends and prospects for big data in sports. By the end of this article, you should understand how big data has evolved over the years.

The History and Development of Big Data in Sports

Like most things in life, big data has not just appeared out of nowhere. Instead, it has been evolving and developing over time, and the same one can say the same about its role in sports. So let’s look at some key milestones in the history and development of big data in sports.

Big data in sports in the 1960s

We can trace the first use of big data in sports back to the 1960s when statisticians began using computers to compile and analyze large amounts of data. This was a significant breakthrough at the time, as it allowed for a more detailed and accurate analysis of sporting events. In addition, it was at this time that professionalism in sports across Europe and America started becoming mainstream. As a result, fans’ attendance in games increased exponentially.

Furthermore, there was massive development in sports broadcasting. Sports broadcasting meant the companies needed to analyze viewership statistics for decision-making. Therefore, big data in sports for decision-making was a necessity then. At this point, the data the companies were collecting was minimal. Consequently, it may not be suitable to refer to it as big data. However, we may refer to that period as when big data became necessary for the industry.

The 1980s

In the 1980s, big data started to play a more prominent role in sports. This was when teams and organizations began using computers to track player movements and performance metrics. Professional clubs and sports teams then used this information to help coaches decide who to start and how to win games.

The 1990s

In the 1990s, big data in sports continued to evolve and play an even more prominent role. This was when teams began using big data to analyze fan behavior. By understanding what fans wanted and how they behaved, teams created more effective marketing strategies and improved overall game attendance.
In the 1990s, most of the global order had embraced capitalism. Thus, investors and companies poured a lot of money into the sports market through sponsorships and capital investments. It was detrimental to gain data on fan behaviour and how they relate with their sports teams. Big data in sports was critical for individual teams to acquire more sponsorship and capital investment.

The 2000s

The 2000s saw big data in sports grow in a different direction. This was when teams began using big data to scout new players and assess their potential value. In football, the transfer value of players grew exponentially. As more owners invested capital in teams, teams that didn’t receive such investment had to be more innovative in their recruitment strategies. They needed to scout good players with the potential to become great before the wealthier teams. Such less wealthy teams, especially in football, gained revenue from sales of those players once they fulfilled their potential.

In addition, the competition level in sports went higher. Small details in the game were critical in winning. As a result, teams began using big data to monitor players’ performance during games and determine who should be substituted out or traded. Coaches gained knowledge on players’ athleticism and fatigue levels. Some players can only play at the highest level for sixty minutes in a ninety-minute game. Such information was critical for teams to ensure they were at their best for every minute of the game.

In the 2010s and 2020s

In the 2010s, big data in sports has continued to play a significant role in improving the sector. This is especially true in analytics, where teams are now using big data to compile detailed reports on player movements, performance, and strategies. In addition, teams are using big data as an effective tool to analyze the opposition.

Analyzing opposition tactics, playing strategies, weak points, trends, and game patterns are critical in helping coaches make better decisions. For example, certain teams play better in the first half of the game than in the second half. Therefore, the opposing team’s coach strategizes to take full advantage of this weakness. Contain the team in the first half and then fully attack in the second half.

So what about today?

Experts expect the sports analytics market to reach almost $4 billion by 2022, and teams worldwide are racing to find a competitive advantage. Teams across all sports globally are embracing the money ball approach to sports management. Big data in sports is being used to segment markets to reduce marketing costs but ensure they are effective.

In addition, teams are analyzing more specific data about players to ensure they maximize their budgets to stay competitive. For example, coaches view scanning of the field as a key attribute needed in a player in football.

Therefore, sports teams collect and analyze new data on how many times a player scans the pitch. The data reduces the probability of acquiring a player who will not fit into the team and become a high-level player.

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