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Bulldog Conversation, Darin White

[Brad] It’s time now for our Bulldog
Conversation Brad Radice back with you and I’m joined by Dr. Darin White, a
business professor here at Samford University, but also the new executive
director for our Center for Sports Analytics. Darin congratulations on
launching this really unique center in the country. [Darin] Yeah it is we’re very
excited about having the center here at Samford we are the first university in
the nation to have a center that focuses on sports analytics specifically and and
which is really great we have you know we have a lot of great sports oriented
programs on campus as far as on the academic side of the institution,
there are actually four programs sports medicine, sports marketing, sports media,
and sports administration all of those you know help students ultimately end up
in a career in sports, but the center for sports analytics is really a
sort of an add-on that’s gonna help all of those programs you know really grow
and have success. [Brad] And to the fan who’s in the stands are watching on TV they can’t
see data making a lot of decisions but this is an area that is growing every
year isn’t it? [Darin] Yeah data is really changing
I mean it’s changing everything not just the world of sports, but it really is
changing for example if you buy anything on Amazon there’s massive amounts of
data being collected and it’s just it’s phenomenal how much big
data really is influencing you know the world that we live in. And so in the
world of sports we’ve seen that really in three ways. You have the kind of money
ball you know that’s when it really got kind of big in sports back in the late
90s with Billy Bean and you know sabermetrics and things like that, and so
you know there are there for example Major League Baseball now that’s almost
every single play they that the team on defense is gonna you know employ a
different kind of shift depending on the analytics the analytics of where that
hitter has hit the ball previously, and you know in football we see that we see
it with whether or not we should go on four down or not. You know now there’s
data that’s actually driving that decision and so so that’s one way it’s
impacting sports. Then you’ve got of course the whole sports performance side
where you know that’s sort of the health of the athlete. If we want our athletes
to truly be performing at peak levels come playoffs, well then we now
have data to help that we’re collecting all kinds of biometric data on our
athletes and that’s allowing us to avoid injuries it’s allowing us to you know
again really get the most out of athletes. So that’s a that’s a really really
neat thing and then you’ve got the third the third way analytics is impacting
sports is through what I would call the business side of sports, and it’s helping
helping teams be able to do a better job of engaging fans when it comes to ticket
pricing what we call dynamic ticket pricing. There’s a lot of ways that
data is really driving a lot of the business decisions and sports as well
and so so yeah so we’re and we’re really the center is sort of focused on all
three of those we plan to have you know opportunities and things going on in all
of those areas. [Brad] Gathering the data is not the hard part but it’s seeing what to do
with it is where you guys come in is that fair to say? [Darin] Yeah that’s
exactly right you know we would we would love to be able to partner with sports
organizations and sports entities that have data and be able to help them. I
mean it’s one thing to have data it’s another thing to be able to allow that
data to help you make good decisions, be it on the field
or be it you know on the business side of sports you know, and so and that’s
really what the the role we hope to play is to be able to help sports
organizations make good decisions based on data. [Brad] For students that will be
involved in the center how do you see this benefiting them helping them really
carving out their future? [Darin] Yeah that’s a major component of what we’re really all
about part of our mission is as a center, so there are lots and lots of jobs in
sports analytics nowadays in the sports industry. All of your professional teams
now have departments sports analytics departments you know brands like Nike
and Adidas and Underarmor they have they have whole armies of data scientists and
the people that are who again are helping with all the data that they have.
So there are a lot of jobs to be had in this industry and really it’s we
don’t have enough people out there yet they’re trained to do this, and so one of
the things that we hope to be able to do with to the center is provide students
the opportunity to gain experience while they’re here at Samford majoring in
whatever, you know whatever area they decided to major in, but then helping
them get actual real-world experience by really through the center allowing them
to partner with sports organizations and do you know gain
real-world experience in in sports analytics. [Brad] And I imagine a great
foundation has already been laid through your sports marketing program we’re
partnering with the cream of the crop in terms of associations, teams, I imagine
we’ll see a good bit of that with this? [Darin] Yeah we are so blessed you know
here at Samford to have so many great relationships with a lot of
really neat organizations that are out there and so for example this semester
we’re working on a project with Nike and we got a group of students that are gonna
be flying out in late October to present, a data oriented project, to Nike. We’re
doing the same thing with a vice president of marketing for minor league
baseball. We’re doing a big sponsorship project with Coca-Cola for example, and
so and it just goes on and on and so these are just great opportunities for
our students to gain real-world experience, using data you know to help
make business decisions you know on the business side of sports. [Brad] Well it’s super
interesting and if you want more information about it head to Samford dot
edu slash sports – analytics. Darin White joining us here for the Bulldog
Conversation, more right after this.

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