Interview Prof Benjamin Alamar , Sports Analytics

Here is an interview with Prof Benjamin Alamar, founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA.

Ajay – The movie Moneyball recently sparked out mainstream interest in analytics in sports.Describe the role of analytics in sports management

Benjamin- Analytics is impacting sports organizations on both the sport and business side.
On the Sport side, teams are using analytics, including advanced data management, predictive anlaytics, and information systems to gain a competitive edge. The use of analytics results in more accurate player valuations and projections, as well as determining effective strategies against specific opponents.
On the business side, teams are using the tools of analytics to increase revenue in a variety of ways including dynamic ticket pricing and optimizing of the placement of concession stands.
Ajay-  What are the ways analytics is used in specific sports that you have been part of?

Benjamin- A very typical first step for a team is to utilize the tools of predictive analytics to help inform their draft decisions.

Ajay- What are some of the tools, techniques and software that analytics in sports uses?
Benjamin- The tools of sports analytics do not differ much from the tools of business analytics. Regression analysis is fairly common as are other forms of data mining. In terms of software, R is a popular tool as is Excel and many of the other standard analysis tools.
Ajay- Describe your career journey and how you became involved in sports management. What are some of the tips you want to tell young students who wish to enter this field?

Benjamin- I got involved in sports through a company called Protrade Sports. Protrade initially was a fantasy sports company that was looking to develop a fantasy game based on advanced sports statistics and utilize a stock market concept instead of traditional drafting. I was hired due to my background in economics to develop the market aspect of the game.

There I met Roland Beech (who now works for the Mavericks) and Aaron Schatz (owner of footballoutsiders.com) and learned about the developing field of sports statistics. I then changed my research focus from economics to sports statistics and founded the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. Through the journal and my published research, I was able to establish a reputation of doing quality, useable work.

For students, I recommend developing very strong data management skills (sql and the like) and thinking carefully about what sort of questions a general manager or coach would care about. Being able to demonstrate analytic skills around actionable research will generally attract the attention of pro teams.

About-

Benjamin Alamar, Professor of Sport Management, Menlo College

Benjamin Alamar

Professor Benjamin Alamar is the founding editor of the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport, a professor of sports management at Menlo College and the Director of Basketball Analytics and Research for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA. He has published academic research in football, basketball and baseball, has presented at numerous conferences on sports analytics. He is also a co-creator of ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal. He has consulted for teams in the NBA and NFL, provided statistical analysis for author Michael Lewis for his recent book The Blind Side, and worked with numerous startup companies in the field of sports analytics. Professor Alamar is also an award winning economist who has worked academically and professionally in intellectual property valuation, public finance and public health. He received his PhD in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2001.

Prof Alamar is a speaker at Predictive Analytics World, San Fransisco and is doing a workshop there

http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/sanfrancisco/2012/agenda.php#day2-17

2:55-3:15pm

All level tracks Track 1: Sports Analytics
Case Study: NFL, MLB, & NBA
Competing & Winning with Sports Analytics

The field of sports analytics ties together the tools of data management, predictive modeling and information systems to provide sports organization a competitive advantage. The field is rapidly developing based on new and expanded data sources, greater recognition of the value, and past success of a variety of sports organizations. Teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, as well as other organizations have found a competitive edge with the application of sports analytics. The future of sports analytics can be seen through drawing on these past successes and the developments of new tools.

You can know more about Prof Alamar at his blog http://analyticfootball.blogspot.in/ or journal at http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jqas. His detailed background can be seen at http://menlo.academia.edu/BenjaminAlamar/CurriculumVitae

Should you buy Zynga or Wait for the FB IPO

I am going to make a case for whether to buy or not buy  Zynga, and waiting to buy Facebook instead. Of course if Mark Pincus offers you a deep discount, and Mark Zuckenberg totally goes over the top with his P/E multiple, all bets would be re-valuated.

In the interest of your time, and my personal happiness, I am going to use a fairly standard way to measure attractiveness of both these companies- notably the Porter’s Five Forces Model. I will also review the recent experiences of Groupon and LinkedIn valuation to underscore what subtle differences in culture, and reputation of founders can affect the eventual value creation or destruction in an IPO.

(to be continued)

Why do bloggers blog ?

Xbox (revision 1.0) internal layout. Including...
Image via Wikipedia

Step 1 is to create internal motivation to create a blog in the first place

Step 2 is to find what to write

Reasons Bloggers Blog-

Basic -Ranting


Examples- I hate Facebook Platform team treats me badly with waits, and breaks my code.

SAS Marketing wont give me  a big discount to make me look good in front of my boss.

Companies  wont give me their software for free- even though I will use it to make money (and not play X Box)

I want my vendors to be FOSS but my customers to switch to SaaS.

Google wont do this- Apple wont do that- Microsoft wont do those.

Revolution would give me 4 great packages but not the open source for RevoScaler (which only 300 people would understand in the first place)

Safety-

I better kiss the Professor and give a Turkey for dinner, as he sits on my thesis committee.

I will recommend Prof X’s lousy book in the hope he recommends my lousy book as a textbook too.

It is safe to laugh when the boss is making a joke-I should comment on her corporate blog, and retweet her.

Belonging-

I belong to this great online community of smart people. Let me agree to what they say.

I really believe in EVERYTHING that ALL the 2 MILLION members of the community have to say ALL the TIME.

I belong to this online community because all my friends are on my computer.

4 Egositic

My blog page rank is now X plus delta tau because of sugary key words (2004)

My technorati numbers rise (2005)

I was once on Digg (2007)

I have Z * exp N followers on Twitter and even more on Facebook (2008)

My Klout is increasing on twitter, My stack overflow reputation ‘s cup floweth over. (2009)

My Karma on Reddit is more important than my Karma in real life (2010)

Self Actualization-

I got time to kill- and I think I may learn more, meet intersting people and discover something wandering on the internet.

All those who wonder are not lost- Wikiquote

I got a story to tell, poems to write, code to give away. A free  Blog is something a Chinese , an Iranian  and a North korean really really know what the value is.

But after all that, WHY Do Bloggers Blog?

  • Because we are still waiting for Facebook to create the Blog Killer.
  • Its better than saying I am unemployed and a social loner
  • Reddit Karma feels good. Any Karma of any kind.

Reputation on Social Networks

Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility
Image via Wikipedia

Classical Economics talks of the value of utlity, diminishing marginal utility if the same things is repeated again and again (like spam in an online community)

StackOverflow has a great way of measuring reputation – and thus allows intangible benefits /awards -similar to wikipedia badges , reddit karma. Utility is also auto generated like @klout  on twitter or lists memberships and other sucessful open source communities online including Ubuntu forums have ways to create ah hierarchies even in class less utopian classes.

Basically it then acts as the motivating game as the mostly boy population try to race on numbers.

 

in Stack Overflow- you can get buddies to upvote you and basically act as a role playing game too.

—–From http://stackoverflow.com/faq#reputation

To gain reputation, post good questions and useful answers. Your peers will vote on your posts, and those votes will cause you to gain (or, in rare cases, lose) reputation:

answer is voted up +10
question is voted up +5
answer is accepted +15 (+2 to acceptor)
post is voted down -2 (-1 to voter)

A maximum of 30 votes can be cast per user per day, and you can earn a maximum of 200 reputation per day (although accepted answers and bounty awards are immune to this limit). Also, please note that votes for any posts marked “community wiki” do not generate reputation.

Amass enough reputation points and Stack Overflow will allow you to go beyond simply asking and answering questions:

15 Vote up
15 Flag offensive
50 Leave comments
100 Edit community wiki posts
125 Vote down (costs 1 rep)
200 Reduced advertising