Big Data analytics in sports

Scientific coordinators of the project: Paola Zuccolotto and Marica Manisera

 

BDsports is a project developed by the Big&Open Data Innovation Laboratory (BODaI-Lab) of the University of Brescia, Italy.

Description of the Project       Our partners

The project

In the last decades, quantitative thinking in sports has gained a rapidly growing interest.
This is reflected by the scientific production on this theme and also by the publication of collections of statistical analyses applied to data from a wide range of sports, including football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, ice hockey and many others. This research project is designed to set up a unique collaboration of experts interested in sport analytics both from a scientific and a practical point of view. The goal is to create a network able to facilitate contacts and joint research initiatives.

Specifically, the project’s members organise events, promotes special Issues in scientific journals, share ideas and data in order to publish scientific and non-scientific papers, collaborate with teams in various sports by supplying them analytics and apply for research grants.
The data scientists’ expertise covers a wide range of quantitative tools in the fields of statistical modelling, multivariate data analysis, data mining, algorithmic modelling and machine learning.

Activities

BDsports is committed to four channels: scientific research, application, teaching and dissemination. The four channels do not develop independently, but the specific activities are integrated and put in synergy with each other. For example, methods and models developed at the level of scientific research, published in international academic journals and often presented at conferences, are then implemented in practice and disseminated to non-professionals through channels different from those usual in the academic context. This integration is aimed at improving the contact between the different worlds interested in the theme of Sports Analytics. Particular attention is paid to young people who, through these issues, can approach the study of subjects normally considered challenging and difficult such as mathematics and statistics and may also find new opportunities for work placement in this area.

 

PILLARS

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Publication of articles in international scientific journals; organization of workshops, seminars, conference sessions; guest editing of special issues of magazines dedicated to the theme of Sports Analytics; participation in scientific committees of journals; preparation and sharing of specific databases and software (see «Research» page).
APPLICATION
Collaboration with professionals in the sport sector, in order to identify the lines of research; user-friendly software implementation; use of models on real data (see «Analytics» page).
TEACHING
Preparation of educational projects for schools and universities; supervision of bachelor, masters and PhD theses; tutoring internships at companies (see «Teaching» page).
DISSEMINATION
Participation in events for the public (see «Dissemination» page); articles in newspapers and magazines aimed at dissemination.

Main Topics

Basic statistics and more complex analytics of a match or a competition

Performance analysis (of teams, players, individual athletes)

Identification of success factors and optimal game strategies

Forecasting

Sport Psychology

Analytics for Injury Prevention

Market analysis for sport marketing

Financial assessment of sports clubs and sports related projects

Team

The team is divided into 5 sections according to the type of competence with which they participate in the project (Data Science, Sport Psychology, Technical Experts & Coaching, Sports Analytics Services & Data Management, Sport Management, Marketing and Finance).

The DATA SCIENCE section is mainly composed of professors and researchers in mathematical-statistical subjects, coming from Italian and foreign universities. Consistently with the originally academic nature of the research project, this section is the most participated and deals mainly with scientific research, but with a strong look at the practical application of the statistical methods and models that are developed. The international inspiration of the project is clearly visible in this section, where the countries represented are today, along with Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Russia and the United States, with a member from the prestigious university of Harvard.

The SPORT PSYCHOLOGY section is devoted to scientific research and application in the specific field of psychometrics for sports.

The TECHNICAL EXPERTS & COACHING section is designed to welcome experts working in the sports world, contributing to the development of research, sharing ideas and the ability to interpret results deriving from the knowledge of sports techniques.

SPORTS ANALYTICS SERVICES & DATA MANAGEMENT includes professionals in the field of data collection and sports analytics, providing services aimed at these purposes to those who work in the world of sport, and collaborate with other members of the team soliciting new issues of research and sharing valuable data for model validation.

Finally, SPORT MANAGEMENT, MARKETING AND FINANCE is the section dedicated to those who deal with the business / management side, always with a quantitative approach.

 

Skills involved in the project

DATA SCIENCE/ SPORT PSYCHOLOGY
Knowledge and implementation of quantitative tools in the field of statistical models, multivariate analysis, data mining, artificial intelligence algorithms and machine learning, with particular – but not exclusive – reference to the analysis of big data.
TECHNICAL EXPERTS & COACHING
Collaboration in the proposal of research topics, in the development of analysis for specific needs, in the implementation of the models that require technical knowledge of the application environment, interpretation of the results and feed-back.
SPORTS ANALYTICS SERVICES & DATA MANAGEMENT
Sharing of ideas and data, implementation on user-friendly supports and standardization of the statistical models developed.
SPORT MANAGEMENT, MARKETING AND FINANCE
Market analysis, management strategies, financial assessments.

Meaning of BODaI

BDsports is a project developed by the Big&Open Data Innovation Laboratory (BODaI-Lab) of the University of Brescia.

 

Bodai (ぼだい) is the Japanese version of the Sanskrit bodhi (बोधि). It is the state of the completely enlightened mind, i.e. the knowledge or wisdom, or awakened intellect, of a Buddha.

The verbal root budh- means to awaken. This term, although mostly used the context of Buddhism, is also present in other Eastern philosophies and traditions. It has been popularised in the Western world with the word enlightenment, having the connotation of a sudden insight into a transcendental truth or reality

In our Laboratory, wisdom, knowledge of Nature and enlightenment are achieved through data analysis and machine learning algorithms.

The symbol used for the “O” of BODaI (as well as for the “O”s in the BODaI’s projects logos) is the sacred symbol in Zen Buddhism called enso, literally meaning circle. It symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the beginning and end of all things, the circle of life and the connectedness of existence. In two words, Universe and Nature. At the same time, through the impossibility of creating the perfect circle freehand, it contains the lesson of the limits of the human mind and the acceptance of imperfection as perfect.

Some authors consider enso as a precursor of the mathematical symbol of infinity.

Research Centers and Laboratories

 

Products & Services
Platforms for Sports Analytics

  • AIASP (“Associazione Italiana Addetti Statistiche Pallacanestro”: associates professionals working in the field of basketball statistics in Italy and San Marino Republic), Como (Italy)
  • MYagonism (Italian startup for basketball analytics), Brescia (Italy)
  • Quant4Sport (Italian startup for aports analytics), Torino (Italy)
  • Football Intelligence, Siena (Italy)
  • Math&Sport, Milano (Italy)
  • BigDataBall (Sports Datasets), London (UK)