When I teach Sports Analytics, I adopt a holistic approach and consider both the business and on-field side within the same course. It doesn’t have to be done this way and there is more than enough material for separate courses on “sports” and “business” analytics. That said, there is value in considering the topic in a single, inclusive curriculum.
Fandom is the concept that unites the games and the business.
Fans are special class of consumers. Fans go beyond just liking a team, a show, an entertainer or even a brand or political figure. Fandom involves identity, community and extreme passion. These traits make fandom an incredibly powerful thing. Intense fans show up when the team is losing, they go door-to-door for their candidate and become walking billboards for brands.
Critically, fandom is what connects the game results to the financial results. Winning creates the fans that fill the stadium and buy the products on the stadium signage.
Because fandom is so powerful and is driven by how teams perform on the field, I use it as the foundation for thinking about the topic of sports analytics.
The core of the class is the Framework. The Framework has 5 components.
1. Foundations: Stories & Narratives
The stories that fans share largely happen on the field and in the arena. These shared stories provide the foundation for fan communities.
2. Meaning: Identity, Community & Relationships
Being a fan is often an integral part of an individual’s self-concept. Being a fan provides psychological benefits, a community of like-minded people and a relationship to a team or other object.
3. Measurement: Fan Equity & Fandom Drivers
A key component of fandom research is measurement. We need to be able to measure fandom in terms of what value it provides to teams and leagues. Once we measure the value of fandom, we can then measure how it is created. In other words, we can discover the true value of winning.
4. Extensions: Sponsorships & Associations
The power of fandom is that it extends beyond the games themselves. The teams and events that create fandom are an integral part of our lives and the larger culture. This means that the “aura” of fandom can have impact in all sorts of interesting ways.
5. The Core:
The “Core” of the framework is “The Games”. This is a key point. The core of any business is the product. In the case of sports, the core of the business is the on-field product. Finding the right players and adopting the correct strategies is all about analysis. The analysis may be driven by data and statistical models or by the deep knowledge and intuition that is gained from years of experience.
This class also discusses some of the underlying academic disciplines that may be relevant to understanding fandom. I (briefly) discuss 7 subject areas that are important to different aspects of sports analytics. Remember this is the Intro course.
Relevant Academic Disciplines
2. Anthropology & Sociology
6. Marketing Theory
Next Class & Homework
The previous assignment was to reflect on your fandom
1. Who are your favorite players and teams?
2. Where did your fandom come from? What were the key events? Who were the key people?
3. How has your fandom changed over your life?
Now – this about your fandom in terms of the Fandom Framework.
Listen to the full class here:
Also streaming on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.