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Confessions from a Sports Software Intern

13 Jul 2013 | Under Viewpoint | Posted by | 0 Comments
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“…and yet a true creator is necessity, which is the mother of our invention.” – Plato, C. 377 BCE

When Sir Isaac Newton gazed at the heavens, perhaps his first thought was not, “I really should create a practical telescope reflector in order to better study the effects of gravitation on celestial bodies.” And yet, it cannot be denied that as time passed and Newton developed his theories on massive bodies, he must have grown frustrated. The tools of the time were simply not enough. He must have realized that if he truly wanted to further his science, he would have to do it himself. A necessity. An invention. Such is the way of progress.

And so we come to the creation of StatEasy, roughly two thousand, three hundred and eighty-four years later. One volleyball team manager, one too many score sheets to fill out, and one bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. This is how a revolutionary new tool for the world of sports was born. Perhaps the Michael Ressler of 2007 did not first think, “I really should write a professional statistician’s tool with integrated video highlights and cloud sharing features,” but he most certainly did realize that there had to be a better way to take statistics than with pencil and paper, or a DOS program from the medieval age. And so, six years and a start-up later, the world had on its hands the next advance in sporting event analytics.

I set sail on the StatEasy ship myself just a few short months ago, brought on as a software engineering intern. There, I was introduced to a motley crew of extraordinarily capable software engineers, marketeers, and athletic directors. In fact, several employees fall into more than one of those categories – I would make you a Venn diagram if I didn’t feel that my time would be better spent explaining exactly why StatEasy is going to be the next big thing in the wide world of sports.

Let’s begin with a discussion of business models that work in the world of modern technology. There is the closed-off, black box content provider model – think Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify. A movie, the latest episode of Breaking Bad, or a track on the latest Daft Punk album – these things have inherent value. Users cannot create them on their own. For this reason, the content provider can afford to have a narrow scope – as long as value is placed on the good they are providing, they need not do anything greater than simply distributing the valued good.

And yet, it is very rare for a service of this nature to have the reach, and ultimately success, of businesses with models similar to those of  Youtube, Facebook, or Reddit. Each of these services share a key element in common: they are platforms. Each one is a springboard for creative development, and each one taps into the seemingly infinite willingness of its user base to constantly generate new content. These businesses have provided a canvas and given the brushes and paint to the seven-odd billion potential artists of the world. Now, instead of being relevant to someone who wants to watch a movie, or a television show, or listen to a track on a new album, these businesses have potentially endeared themselves to everyone on the planet. StatEasy falls into this second category. It is a platform.

So what else does one stir into the melting pot of business success? As surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, social features will consistently enhance the appeal of any business. We are social creatures, and when we see that social nature reflected in the technology we use, we cannot help but become enamored with it. When a coach puts up a completely statted game after an event, his team is going to want to pour over it. The players are going to look up their plays, see what they did right, see what they did wrong, and talk about those plays with their team. Perhaps the event is an NBA or NFL game. Now, it is not only the players that want to see the plays, but thousands upon thousands of rabid football or basketball fans. These fans are going to want to talk about the event with their friends, families, and co-workers. The age-old water cooler discussion might go less along the lines of, “did you see that play by X in yesterday’s game?” and more along the lines of “let me pull out my smart phone, navigate to the StatEasy website, and show you exactly what play has me so excited.”

That’s really the future of sports – an instantly accessible, easily navigable repository of every play from every game. That is the future that StatEasy promises. Sports fans are no longer going to need to record entire games and flip through them to find the amazing moments they contain. They are going to be able to search, Google-style, through every play, whether they are looking for that incredible home run by their own aspiring athlete, or that unbelievable touchdown by a professional QB. It’s going to instantly be at their fingertips. And as surely as the world of sports is here to stay, there will always be a constant stream of new content from StatEasy.

Im a huge fan of StatEasy and haven’t found any stat program that works as well when stating volleyball.

William Becque
William Becque
Director of Sports Information at Smith College

We utilized the stats on the bench to help us win a 5-set match against the 4th ranked team in the country! They were not using StatEasy by the way.

Tim_Balice
Tim Balice
Head Women’s Volleyball Coach, Kalamazoo Valley Community College

It’s a definite game changer!

patrick_walton
Patrick Walton
Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Voyager Academy

Mind = Blown.

Lauren_Torvi
Lauren Torvi
Assistant Women’s Volleyball Coach, Depauw University

One of our major [focal points] is professional development… That is part of our mission, and this product, hands down, does that.

dave_archer
Dave Archer
Executive Director, Basketball Coaches Association of New York

It gives that coach an option of showing their players instantly, not just their numbers, not just their stats, but film to back up what those numbers say, so that’s something that we think could be really special to the coach.

tom_barrick
Tom Barrick
Executive Director, Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association

We believe it’s the model that is going to catch on once people realize the quality of the product.

greg_grantham
Greg Grantham
Executive Director, North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association