How is visual analytics supporting tomorrow's sports stars?

SAS Visual Analytics is an essential data storytelling platform that local sports organisations can use to manage resources and build participant engagement.

By Travis Murphy

Football NSW is a fast-growing organisation, featuring 4,500 referees, 12,500 coaches and 227,000 players. However, before we dig into this any further, let's take a step back and talk about The Mighty Ducks.

A classic feature of the pee-wee sports movie genre, The Mighty Ducks and its sequels wove a compelling story of the journey from misfit local rink hockey team to world champions. It's not a movie about professionals, but it still captivates as a great sports tale should.

The next great athletic story is unfolding as we speak on pitches and fields across Australia, and it's being written with the help of sports data analytics.

Sports, first and foremost, is about participation - getting players onto the field to enjoy the physical and mental well-being that comes with the activity. Keeping those levels up, and providing the necessary support teams need to play, is an essential function of the agencies and organisations behind the sport.

Paving the way for the next star athletes

From the screen to stadiums around the world, we watch as those of humble origins chase glory on the field. It's important to remember that the passion that drives these careers is often born in local sports clubs. This is why it's important to grow participation at all levels in sporting agencies.

A wealth of big data is the undercurrent of local sports organisations.

This is something Football NSW is particularly familiar with. The organisation has been incredibly popular - it boasts more participants than any other sport in the state - and further growth is already in store; the government recently announced that the NSW Asian Cup 2015 Legacy Fund, a $4 million investment, is being directed to local communities to improve their football facilities.

Of course, managing such funds, facilities and the teams that use them is a colossal task - one that brings stakeholders from all areas of a community to the table. All this is underlined by the vast amounts of data that run through the organisation.

Putting data into play

Sports, first and foremost, is about participation - getting players onto the field to enjoy the physical and mental well-being that comes with the activity. Keeping those levels up, and providing the necessary support teams need to play, is an essential function of the agencies and organisations behind the sport.

As centralised bodies that must manage a wide scope of activity, these organisations need tools to make the job easier. This is one of the reasons why Football NSW turned to SAS Visual Analytics. With an intuitive platform, the organisation has been better able to manage services to all its teams and players.

"We can zoom right down to postcode, street or the individual and show why investing in better lights or irrigation at the local oval will help their community as well as the players who use the facility," says Eddie Moore, Football NSW CEO.

"Having this type of data available, and then being able to take it to our audience, whether it is a government official, sponsor or our own members, is very powerful."

Tools for telling the sports data story

Without checking, do you remember the participation figures for Football NSW? Not likely. Those numbers are not particularly compelling on their own. It's when we weave a narrative with data points that information becomes memorable in a lasting way.

SAS Visual Analytics is an essential data storytelling platform for sports organisations.

Of course, creating that data story is quite difficult when there is such a massive volume of raw information to sift through. All told, the organisation has about 244,000 participants - and the data for each one.

Seeing that information on a spreadsheet is cumbersome, but it is seamless through SAS Visual Analytics. The platform gives organisations the ability to easily create the narrative with their data and communicate it to stakeholders. This data driven approach allows organisations to drive improvements to grass roots sport through better facilities and increased customer service to all participants, young or young-at-heart.

Can a similar data visualisation strategy do the same for your organisation?

About the Author

Travis Murphy is Marketing Lead for SAS Solutions in Australia and New Zealand. He has over 15 years of experience in BI, DW, Data Visualization and Analytics. Prior to SAS, he held roles with other large IT vendors focused on business analytics. These roles include product management, consulting, training and presales. In his current role at SAS, Travis covers a broad range of offerings and works with customers in adopting SAS technology and driving better insight from all available data.

goal-field

Back to Top