By far the most popular—and profitable—sport in the US and one of the fastest-growing sports abroad, American football offers a wealth of data for a range of interests. American football data includes information on players, coaches, legal cases, match viewership and attendance, and individual and team performance.
The data also tracks injuries, including chronic traumatic encephalitis (CTE), made a household name in the 2000’s thanks to the sport.
Due to the popularity of the sport, the amount of sources for this data abounds. Official leagues and teams collect data during every game and practice: they even use sensors in player’s gear to transmit real-time location data and to flag potential injuries.
In addition to official league and media channels, there are fan sources and medical research databases.
The most common type of American football data are about players and teams: games, plays, possessions, touchdowns, etc. Comparisons between teams and between past and present players are also very popular, especially for fans.
Additional data include coach information, match viewership and attendance, type of injury, and more. And of course, information about the Super Bowl halftime show and Super Bowl advertisements are also gathered: The astonishingly high—and ever-increasing—price for a thirty-second Super Bowl commercial provides marketers with vital information about a majority of the American population.
The uses of this data vary greatly. Fans play fantasy football, argue team performance, place bets, start a workout plan similar to their favorite players, and so on. They are only limited by their creativity.
Meanwhile, managers, owners use it to make personnel decisions or argue for new stadium from the city. Coaches, of course, use the data to create personalized training plans and prepare plays for upcoming matches.
Medical professionals also use injury and autopsy data to study and treat injuries. Further, they and other concerned groups often use their data to argue for rule changes or gear changes to better protect players.
The main test of American football data, aside from accuracy, is whether it fits the intended purpose. Coaches looking to sign a player must show they can provide top coaching and an attractive salary. Team owners looking for city approval to build a new stadium need to show that the revenue generated by the proposal will outweigh construction costs.
Based on score, ball position, opponent and time on the clock, high school offenses use EdjSports’ web-based app before a first down to project how many yards they will need to pick up on the ensuing three downs to justify going for it on fourth down.
“That’s what they really love — to be able to know that in advance,” said Frank Frigo, co-founder of EdjSports. “It can dictate playcalling.”
Opta Sports provides granular, real-time data and analytics on a range of sports. This includes data on players, teams, managers, and on-field action. The Opta Sports American Football data set collects American football-specific stats like touchdowns.
Further, while their data feeds, widgets, and other services suffice for most users, Opta also offers help from experts to help craft bespoke data solutions.