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Certification and Your Career in Professional Sports

Big Data has been a big part of professional sports for a while now. Your jump shot or fastball may not be ready for the big leagues, here but analytics certification could get you called up.

BasketballThe big stars in the world of professional sports are the athletes, but data science professionals are getting due recognition for their contribution to the world of games people play. Hollywood already made a movie, the 2011 hit Moneyball, out of author Michael Lewis' best-selling book about the transformation of Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics by guys who trusted the numbers.

 

With another Oakland team preparing to battle for a major professional sports championship — the NBA's Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder face off in a best-of-seven series starting Monday — it feels like a fitting moment to remind all of the sports fans out there that you don't have to be lightning fast off the dribble, or have elite bat speed, to be a pro sports all-star.

 

Like with just about everything else that business organizations do to make money in 2016, professional sports is increasingly driven by continuous and assiduous analysis of enormous amounts of data. And there are numerous IT certifications that can help you gain increased fluency in the subset of statistics that guides multimillion-dollar decisions.

 

Professional sports teams have piles of money, and some of them don't seem to mind spending it willy-nilly. For most organizations, however, investing in the future with big money contracts or state-of-the-art facilities and equipment is undertaken largely (if not entirely) on the basis of careful research. And certified analytics professionals play a key role in both compiling and digesting that research.

 

One of the leading analytics firms in the world, North Carolina-based SAS, has a vested interest in the ever-expanding sports analytics world. For SAS, sports analytics covers everything from using the right tactics to engage fans to providing hyper-accurate financial data to potential sponsors and advertisers.

 

And, yes, Charles Barkley notwithstanding, the smartest pro sports teams use data to find and develop players.

 

So, yeah, most of us aren't born with the right stuff to bomb three-pointers like Steph Curry, or turn on a fastball like Bryce Harper. That doesn't have to be an insurmountable obstacle, however, to playing a part in the destiny of the sports team that you rooted for as a child. There's science in everything, and anyone willing to study — by getting an analytics or data science certification, for example — can learn enough to make a contribution.