In recent years, sport organizations have begun to incorporate objective data into their decision-making processes. Following a trend that has been occurring throughout the business world as well, sport organizations have started to hire bright minds from top universities across the country to engage in data analytics. With that in mind, the Rice Sport Management program has introduced “Special Topics: Analytic Sport Management,” allowing interested students to better position themselves to be hired into the sport industry.
“Rice Sport Management prides itself in being on the cutting edge of preparing students to work in the business of sport. Today's Sport Management students need to possess a variety of skills in order to make them standout from others competing for the same internships and subsequently jobs. Sports Analytics is a new field that is well suited to the skills and interests of many of our majors. Therefore we decided to implement it into our curriculum,” said Dr. Jimmy Disch, the course’s professor.
The class curriculum was inspired by one current and one former member of the Houston Rockets Basketball Operations department. Daryl Morey, the current GM, and George Postolos, the former President of the Rockets, both provided input into the class’s organization. Moneyball, the book by Michael Lewis which was recently adapted into a Hollywood film, was selected as the introductory text.
While the class covers traditional academic topics such as regression, factor analysis, and testing reliability, the class has also provided its enrollees with guest speakers. Ben Jedlovec ‘08 talked about the manner in which Moneyball affected baseball front offices, and the class is attempting to get Andrew Friedman, the acclaimed GM of the Tampa Bay Rays, to speak in the future. The guest speakers have provided the class with an interesting look into the ways they can apply their knowledge of analytics to a sport organization.
The class has been such a success thus far that the Sport Management department plans on making it a permanent offering. Furthermore, the hope is that the class can be combined with additional Sport Management, Math Econ, CAAM, and Statistics courses to form a Sport Analytics minor. While those plans may be in the future, Analytic Sport Management is here to stay.
Paul Fitzgerald, a senior from Montclair, New Jersey, is majoring in Mathematical Economic Analysis and Sport Management while also minoring in Business.