Author: Benjamin C. Alamar
Published: 2013, Colombia University Press, New York
ISBN: 978-0-231-16292-0

What is it about?

Sports Analytics is about using data and analytics in a professional sports department.
The book initially describes the state of sports analysis across a number of fields, how many analysts do sports teams have, how they use the information and how do they perceive the use of their analysis department.
From there, the book describes purposes and uses of data in sport. The book finishes with examples and thoughts on the implementation of analysis within an organisation and how to link up thinking of decision makers and analysts, including how to build a successful analysis department.

Who is the author?

Benjamin C. Alamar is a Lecturer at Colombia University in the city of New York. Previous to this, he was the Director of Sports Analytics at ESPN and worked with NBA teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder for 5 years.

Who is it for?

The book is targeted at decision makers within sports organisations. Primarily it is a read for coaches and board room decision makers. It is broadly applicable to the commercial end of sports teams as well.
Given the technicality in the book, it feels like it really is written for analysts themselves, almost as a disguised ‘how-to’ for analysts.
A big sport-nerd might also find the book informative although I think there are more ‘story-telling’ style analysis books that would suit them better.
The book uses generic examples through out such as “One NBA Team…” and discusses a lot processes and methods in these generalities, when the book does use real names and teams from examples that are more known to the public, what the author discusses comes to life a lot more. Examples given are almost exclusively American mainstream sports too which might make it feel less relatable for a non-American reader.

What did you take from it?

Considering I like to beat the drum of thinking of the change in behaviour and result of your work before engaging in strenuous work in that area, this book narrowed in on implementing analysis structures and metrics in an environment and gave practical examples and advice on that change management specific to analysis that I thought were useful.
The book discusses using analytics but as it is targeted at a very narrow group of decision makers in professional sports organisations, it might be a bit far fetched for low level professional teams and below as data collection at this level is normally done by manual labour by an individual within a club. In saying that, it will likely give you ideas on different ways to use analytics in your organisation regardless.

Should I buy it?

If you’re a decision maker or analyst with an opinion that your analysis department can be improved, then this is a great book for opening up your mind as to how you can use analysis and implement the change required.
If you’re looking for an engaging read, I would probably not look at this book. With it having a lot of heavy discussion on data and it’s “How-to” feel, it is a long read for a short book.
Overall Rating: 4/5

Thanks for reading this and hopefully it gives you a clearer view if this book is for you. More book reviews are due in the next few weeks alongside other articles. If you wish to stay updated on these, please subscribe to the website on the right on your desktop or below on your mobile device. Feel free to check out our other articles to read more about sports analysis, including examples on how New Zealand’s Lineout functions or what camera to purchase for doing sports analysis.

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