Fanalytics Podcast: Sales Force Analytics

In this podcast episode, I sit down with Jon Adler, Director of New Membership and Ticket Sales for the Atlanta Hawks. In the first half of the episode, Jon and I talk about the mechanics of selecting and managing a team of entry-level sales professionals. The conversation focuses of using incentives to both motivate employees and to teach effective sales tactics. We also talk a little about applying “Money Ball” techniques to sales force management. This is an important point because the same basic techniques that can be used to predict the performance of a point guard can be used to select a salesperson.

In the second half of the episode, I take a deeper dive into how different techniques and theories can help sales managers. Salesforce management has some real challenges related to forecasting performance and using dynamic incentive schemes to motivate performance. Recognizing some of the underlying complexity can be helpful because it provides a guide to decomposing managerial problems and identifying the best analytic approaches.

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You can find the episode on iTunes, Spotify, SoundCloud, TuneIn, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Please rate, review, and subscribe!

Fanalytics Podcast: Ezekiel Who? Analytics & the Collective Bargaining Agreement

 

In this episode, Professor Lewis discusses why the Ezekiel Elliott holdout is the most important off-season NFL story. It’s a story about how the collective bargaining agreement’s rules for rookie contracts comes into conflicts with analytics. The conflict occurs because for some positions, like running back, NFL rookie contract rules allow teams to avoid paying market rates for the majority or entirety of players’ careers. The episode talks about how last year’s Todd Gurley and Le’veon Bell deals have gotten us to the point where players may be increasingly willing to hold-out and teams may be less likely to invest in running backs.  

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Fanalytics Podcast: Sports Analytics – Getting Your Foot in the Door

Houston Dynamo Data Analyst and Emory alumni Sean Steffen joins Mike Lewis on this Fanalytics podcast episode where they discuss how to get into the field of sports analytics. Getting your foot in the door can be quite competitive. Sean shares his “non-traditional” journey.

Some background on Sean: In college, he majored in creative writing. From there, he started writing for American Soccer Analysis, a blog that focuses on Major League Soccer. The key to Sean’s success was that he backed up his writing with data and analytics.

The conversation gets a little deep in the weeds and even includes a discussion of the competing programming languages – R and Python. For prospective analysts, Sean recommends learning excel and linear regression.  Mike says SQL, R, and linear regression are good starting points to analyze data.

They also talk modern soccer analytics such as the logic and mechanics behind expected goals.

You can reach Sean on Twitter @SeanSteffen or search him on LinkedIn.

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Fanalytics Podcast: FIFA World Cup Gender Pay Gap

A big topic making headlines right now is the FIFA Women’s World Cup. More specifically, the gender pay gap at the FIFA World Cup.

Professors Mike Lewis and Tom Smith discuss their thoughts on the wage differences between the men and women’s soccer teams on this Fanalytics podcast episode.

Tom also looks at the earning ratios of men and women athletes primarily in the United States.

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Fanalytics Video: NBA Off-Season & Draft

Here’s the latest sports headlines on the Fanalytics video this week! Mike shares his thoughts going into the NBA off-season and the draft happening on Thursday.

 

Fanalytics Podcast: Lucy Rushton and Building Atlanta United FC

How do you build a new team, like the Atlanta United, from the ground up?

In this Fanalytics episode we meet Atlanta United’s Lucy Rushton. As the team’s Head of Technical Recruitment and Performance Analysis, she provides analytics, data and insights that help the team build their roster.  In the conversation with Lucy we talk about two types of analyses.  One part involves the subjective analysis which is watching the players on the field. The other part is the objective analysis which involves data and statistics, emotion is taken out of the analysis. Rushton says it’s important to get a balance between the two in order to drive a successful department.

So what’s the game plan when searching for players for the team? Rushton says to get data and find players that fit in with the club philosophy and playing styles. Styles include players who have fast attacking skills, can entertain, athleticism, and speed. You also have to ask, what are the key attributes of a player for the position they look for? How much do these players cost?

When it comes to statistical forecasting, how much of that do decision-makers want to see? They want to see the insights not the models.

What’s next for Atlanta United? The head scout says the goal is to get better, get another chance to play in the CONCACAF Champions League, and growth in analysis.

In the second half of the episode, we talk about some of the larger lessons related to performing and presenting analytics in any organization. Analytics is seldom a magic bullet for any organizational challenge. More often, analytics informs rather than directs decisions.

Along these lines, we frame the interview with Lucy and the challenge of building a championship roster in terms of decision support realities such as biases in human decision making and the limitations of statistical models.

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Fanalytics Video: NBA Finals & FIFA Women’s World Cup

This week on the Fanalytics video, we discuss the big story lines happening in the NBA finals and FIFA Women’s World Cup. Thanks for checking out the trending sports stories with us on Monday mornings!

Fanalytics Video: NBA Finals

Fanalytics Podcast: Three-Point Field Goal

This week, Professor Mike Lewis and Emory student Alex Notis examine the three-point field goal (also 3-pointer) in the NBA.

The modern NBA has been transformed by the three-point shot.  Points are up, turnovers are down and NBA rosters are now built to shoot the three.

Some key facts…

When the three-point line was introduced in 1986 only 3% of shots were three-point attempts.

This season, 36% of shots were three pointers.

In this episode, we talk about Alex’s project which looks into trends and outcomes related to the three-point shot.

In the second half of the episode, Professor Lewis takes a step back and talks about the concept of expected value.  Expected value is a key concept in sports analytics. In decisions ranging from taking a three-point shot in the NBA, pulling the goalie in hockey, going for 2 in the NFL, or bunting to move a runner to second in MLB, expected value calculations are the key.

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Fanalytics Podcast: Mascots & Sports Team Names

In this Fanalytics podcast episode, we are doing a deep dive into mascots and team names in the sports world. Marketing Professor Mike Lewis, MBA student Al Multani-Kohal, and I kick off the episode by talking about a viral tweet.

A little background before getting to that…

Professor Lewis has been studying issues surrounding team names and mascots for several years.  This OpEd discusses the business case for changing a controversial team name such as the Washington Redskins.  A full series of posts focused on team names and mascots can be found here.

The topic of team names and mascots has since entered the classroom. Professor Lewis teaches a Sports Marketing class and recently gave an assignment where groups of students had to choose a sports brand that they believed could benefit from an updating.  Students were also asked to propose a solution to the potential branding “problem.”

Al’s group got caught up in a Twitter storm after they proposed changing the National Hockey League’s Nashville Predators to the Sabercats.

Al says his group looked at North American professional teams that could use rebranding because there wasn’t brand equity. This involved asking:

1.) Was there something that could be perceived as offensive?

2.) Was there a disconnect with how a logo/brand/mascot resonated with its origin stories?

Al says his team analyzed data on the word “predator” and found there were negative connotations associated with it. That’s how this proposal came to light.

In the second part of this episode, Mike and I talk about the history of mascots and some of the most famous brand mascots of all time including Mickey Mouse, Tony the Tiger, and Mario.

We also discuss a couple of controversial Native American mascots – the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins.

 

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