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This Month In Analytics: Why The 'Brightest' Football Minds Work In Betting

Betting Strategies | Article posted on February 26th, 2015

Published: 26th February 2015

– Updated: 26th February 2015
How are professional sports teams dealing with the seemingly endless mountains of data now available? And why do the sharpest minds in football work in the betting industry? Today Richard Whittall delivers his round up of the last month in sports analytics.
February is quickly becoming a critical month of the year for football analytics, in part because it is conference season. The month began with the one-day OptaPro Analytics Forum in London, and will end with the 9th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston.
The conferences come at a critical juncture in the future of sports analytics in the “group invasion sports”: hockey, basketball and football. The National Hockey League in particular has been a focal point recently since the controversial rollout of advanced stats on NHL.com. Yet while several high profile writers,including Globe and Mail sports columnist James Mirtle, pointed out some of the flaws in how the metrics are presented, many are hopeful for what they see as the major next step in hockey analytics—player tracking technology. Mirtle:
“The addition of tagging and tracking – which is expected to launch in time for the start of next season – should produce an Everest-sized mountain of new material, similar to what the NBA’s generated with their camera data.
The hard part is going to be making sense of all of it, especially considering the NHL’s very early efforts with much more basic statistical information aren’t encouraging.”
Mo’ Data. Mo’ Problems.
This question of who exactly is going to do the difficult, mathematically demanding work of analyzing this highly complex data was brought up by analyst and author Ben Alamar this month in a column for ESPN The Magazine. Alamar wrote about how clubs seem to be on the fence about compensating analysts—many of which will now likely require PhDs—appropriately in light of this new technology:
“But soon a new challenge emerged: Starting in the 2013-14 season, SportVU cameras were installed in every NBA arena. The amount of data available to teams suddenly grew from a pond to an ocean. Think about it: Those cameras capture the coordinates of 10 players plus the ball 25 times every second. That’s a vast amount

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