Nurturing Interest in STEM with Sports Analytics

As baseball fans get ready to celebrate Major League Baseball's opening day, college basketball fans look forward to the Final Four as we wind up this year's March Madness Tournament, and hockey fans prepare for the end of the regular NHL season, there's no shortage of commentary and content about professional and college sports.

March is a great time of year for sports fans. There's so much to watch and so much excitement in the air. The rise of analytics to the mainstream is only adding to that.

Fans have always combed over the statistics for their teams and competitive teams, looking to predict the outcomes. Now wearable technology, connected devices, and analytics are bringing more information and insights to the game of predicting what will happen.

As Jon Carter illustrates in his Cartertoon this month, the practice may even be filtering down to the playground. After all, more kids have mini computers -- also known as smart phones -- in their pockets today. Looking to record or access sports information or individual player information? Well there's probably an app for that.

And these are the very same boys and girls who are being encouraged to consider pursuing careers in STEM fields -- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Combining that love for science, math, and technology with participation in sports is not a bad idea. Such hands-on activities with technology that let students see results in the real world may encourage them to pursue STEM careers. And encouraging sports participation is an important antidote to spending too much time at a desk coding.

Do you know kids or have kids that are using technology to collect performance information for their own teams? Let us know in the comments.

Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps, Informationweek

Jessica Davis has spent a career covering the intersection of business and technology at titles including IDG's Infoworld, Ziff Davis Enterprise's eWeek and Channel Insider, and Penton Technology's MSPmentor. She's passionate about the practical use of business intelligence, predictive analytics, and big data for smarter business and a better world. In her spare time she enjoys playing Minecraft and other video games with her sons. She's also a student and performer of improvisational comedy. Follow her on Twitter: @jessicadavis.

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Re: Bring on the girls
  • 4/11/2017 8:26:35 AM

Yes, seems we're still gender prejudiced still and wonder if analytics numbers might show even slants in assumptions for sports data? Interesting to see just where IoT and assorted devices go with sports though.

  • 4/5/2017 2:40:43 PM

I belive that a large part of this analytic effort is driven by betting. Mayve we are assisting gamblers of the future.

Re: Baseball physics
  • 4/3/2017 11:46:54 AM

They're on the other side of the court and already have their team picked.

Re: Baseball physics
  • 3/31/2017 11:42:52 PM

Or maybe the girls  were the ones analyzing the data-- either way they should be there!

Re: Baseball physics
  • 3/31/2017 11:35:37 PM

@Terry -

Competition has a remarkable way of pushing people to do the things that work. If that's analytics, it will become as widespread as quarterbacks who can throw a football.

@Impactnow & @Michelle - maybe all the girls are playing volleyball?

Re: Baseball physics
  • 3/31/2017 8:31:11 PM

An up-and-coming volleyball coach I know was the last person on earth you'd ever expect to pick up statistics and learn analytics as one way to give his teams a competitive edge. And all that was due to a program called DataVolley, which assigns qualitative and quantitive numbers to everything that happens on the court. 

Re: Bring on the girls
  • 3/31/2017 2:04:06 PM

I didn't notice it at firts, but you're right! Half of the class is missing.

Bring on the girls
  • 3/31/2017 1:42:53 PM

But where are the girls in the picture they could change the picture drastically!