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We hear time and time again that the opportunities for big data are truly endless, but have we opened our minds to think about the possibilities for big data in culture and sport? Personally, I know I have been associating big data with big business, big technology, and big healthcare. But now, I’ve got good news for the football fans out there….

Your fantasy football team just went high tech.

The National Football League has inserted itself into the technology side of big data, looking to use data to help players, fans, and teams.

According to a recent Forbes article, the NFL recently announced a deal with tech firm Zebra to install RFID data sensors in players’ shoulder pads and in all of the NFL’s arenas.  The chips collect detailed location data on each player, and from that data, things like player acceleration and speed can be analyzed.

This data is planned to be made available to fans and teams, but not during game play in an attempt to avoid rapid data consumption during games.

This is just the start for big data collection in the NFL and other sporting leagues as the sensors could go on to measure ball speed and distance, trajectory, information regarding impacts to the head and other injuries, even a new form of sports broadcasting, and so on.

These real-time usable statistics could dramatically change the way fans and teams watch and analyze games.

Is it just for the fans? 

As exciting as this news is for the fans, it brings a new vertical to coaching- an asset so accurate and real; something that coaches have not been able to utilize in the past. These statistics can help coaches determine an opposing team’s plays or they can use the data of the individual players to determine improvement throughout the season.

Fantasy football fans will be able to access this same database, for a fee, to build the ultimate fantasy team. The NFL wants to continue to keep their fans as engaged as possible, and believes that this tactic will do just that.

These real time statistics are changing the ball game of fantasy football. Only a few years back, it took hours to compile accurate and complete data on players. Today, it is not only faster, but it gives the people an opportunity to feel like they are a part of the game.

So, you have all of this data at your fingertips…now get picking!

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