Data Alone Isn’t Enough
Sparta Science CEO Dr. Phil Wagner discusses sports data in Joe Lindsey’s article on Wired.com.
January 13, 2016 (MENLO PARK, CA) The NFL may be the most popular and profitable major sport in America, but until recently, it’s lagged behind other leagues in sophisticated use of data analysis.
“We’ve done work across all major sports,” says Ray Hensberger, director of Sports Analytics at consulting group Booz Allen Hamilton. “The NFL has historically had the least amount of data.” At least some of that deficit was due to the challenge of how to get good data, which starts with how to record what actually happens on the field.
“If I had to use one word to describe analytics right now, I’d say ‘noise’,” says Dr. Phil Wagner. A physician and former elite athlete, Wagner founded Sparta Sports Science, a San Francisco Bay Area training facility with a strong data science streak. When athletes test their vertical jump on a sophisticated force plate system, Sparta’s proprietary software, SpartaTrac, can measure any number of variables that Wagner calls an athlete’s movement signature™. That signature can identify strengths and weaknesses, or even warn of impending injury.