Thursday, March 21, 2013

Valuable Takeaways for Sports Agents from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

It’s fascinating to hear how analytics is shaping the sports industry. However, the key question we ask after the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is: what can we do with all this great information? With that in mind, this post identifies actionable information that sports agents can use with minimal investment in both time and money.

First of all, I believe the conference gets misunderstand. It’s not only about the benefits of sports analytics and how teams can gain an edge. It features as much content on sports business and technology as statistics.

Here’s how one sports agent from the past could leverage today’s technology, if he actually existed. Back in 1996, Jerry Maguire had it rough. After SMI fired him, he faced a huge challenge competing with agents like Bob Sugar. Here are three problems he encountered, followed by solutions that didn’t exist 17 years ago.

On a shoestring budget, Jerry found it nearly impossible to generate a positive image for his client Rod Tidwell. Today, Maguire could easily build a website with dynamic content and blog posts that provide insight into the real Rod Tidwell. Jerry’s Twitter account (and Rod’s as well) would link to these updates and share details that never find their way into the mainstream sports media. Best of all, Jerry could automate his tweets with a tool like HootSuite. So he could enjoy a night out with Dorothy while his tweets reach thousands of followers and build Tidwell’s brand.

Maguire struggled to land quality endorsements opportunities for Tidwell. He even placed him in one ad that required sitting atop a camel in the desert. Today, Jerry could use exciting technology like BrandMatch Score, which enables companies to identify their best potential endorsers by measuring campaign specific data, athlete statistics, and consumer perceptions. Representatives from BrandMatch Score explained their tools could also be used by agents to find sponsorships for their clients. 

Unlike larger agencies like Sugar’s SMI, Maguire could not afford to hire experts in areas like sports medicine. Fortunately, tools like Dartfish make it possible for him to compare arm angles for his baseball clients and/or quarterbacks, using nothing but a Smartphone and $5 iPhone app. Future Hall of Famer John Smoltz studied his pitching motion with Dartfish, which helps analyze performance and avoid injuries.

Of course, large sports agencies can also gain an edge technology. The difference today is that all agents can take advantage of these and other amazing tools to even the playing field.