Sports Jobs Q&A - Starting a Career in Research and Analytics

sports jobs in research and analytics
When someone asks a question about working in sports research and analytics, I see an excuse to post a picture from Moneyball!
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We spend so much time responding to individuals that we thought, why not publish some of these questions and answers about sports jobs for everyone to benefit from?

This weeks question comes from Ryan Mirch a recent Georgetown graduate, curious about jobs in research and sports analytics:

The Q:

I was hoping I could gain further insight on how I should approach looking for sports jobs within analytics/market research/research side of the industry.  I have been utilizing your website for the past few months, and the few job offerings I find within this field requires several years of experience. I just finished up my Masters in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University, and I want to compliment my education and experiences within sports with my quantitative-based education of Finance and Economics from undergrad. I have a lot of experience within qualitative research, but I want to gain experience on the quantitative/analytical side of things.

I was just curious if had any insights on how I can get my foot in the analytical field of sports, or if there are any companies that focus on this that you could point me in the right direction.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated in this manner at your convenience.

Thank you,

Ryan Mirch

The A:

Brian Clapp, Director of Content for 

Ryan, I have a couple of ideas for you as your pursue sports jobs post-graduation. (Congrats on getting your Masters by the way)

First off, I think it’s important to think of your career in stages, so if your ideal sports job is in analytics and research, maybe your first step, to get your foot in the door, is in the operations department for a pro or minor league team. Baseball has embraced analytics more than any other sport, and not just for advanced statistics, also for financial models and contract structures.

I think your strengths would be perfectly suited for a role within baseball ops for a pro or minor league team - it may not start out specifically in analytics, but as your employers see your strengths in research and analysis they will look to use you in different methods.

sports jobs in research and analytics
Teams like the Chicago Cubs rely heavily on research and analytics for high-level decision making, which is championed by President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein
I would also encourage you to look into certain teams in the NBA like the Celtics, Rockets and even teams like the Lightning in the NHL, they are known to rely on analytics for high-level decision making. To start check into the NBADL and the AHL too - minor leagues are a great place to start because you’ll have a chance to do just about everything and build your personal portfolio.

Truth is, more and more teams are embracing analytics—but the jobs don’t always say “director of research” in the title – sometimes you have to dig through a lot of job descriptions to find out a certain role starts you on the right career path to your ultimate goal.

Second idea – sports networks hire a great deal of researchers to help with on air statistics, but also to prepare play-by-play and color announcers, so that is worth checking into.

The other benefit of working at a sports network is being around former GMs with incredibly valuable contacts. If you were to work at ESPN and rub elbows with Jim Bowden and Bill Polian, you might be able to leverage your good work into an opportunity in the league.

I’ve heard of other research companies like SBRnet and SIRC (I think SIRC is in Canada) but I can’t vouch for their business or hiring practices.

Here are a couple of searches I’ve set up for you that might help you look at your search for sports jobs a little differently.

  • Keyword search based on the term ‘operations’. This one gets a little muddier since that term gets thrown around a lot. BUT, our new search tool lets you filter in more detail, by clicking on pro sports & college sports on the left sidebar – start with this and then refine to your liking:

I hope this presents some alternative ideas for you.

If you have other ideas for Ryan, put them in the comments below. And if you have a question you'd like us to answer for next weeks Sports Jobs Q&A you can add it to the comments as well!

We respond to everyone, but we'll highlight the best in our weekly column.
By Brian Clapp | March 30, 2017
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