As the United States Sports Academy marks the beginning of a new academic year in September, it does so by introducing an exciting new course to its sports education degree programs.

The Academy will soon offer a sports analytics course to Master of Sports Science degree students and advanced level bachelor’s degree seekers. Sports analytics, a concept made popular by the 2003 Michael Lewis book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and the subsequent 2011 film Moneyball starring Brad Pitt, is the use of evidence-based data when making sports management decisions. Moneyball tells the story of the 2002 Oakland Athletics baseball team and their manager Billy Beane’s attempts to use statistical analysis to assemble a winning team on a slim budget.

The course, SAM 520 Sports Analytics, is designed to aid students in an understanding of the development and application of analytical, evidence-based methods when making sports management decisions. Students will use quantitative methods and statistics to understand and interpret data from major sports including, but not limited to baseball, football, and basketball. Students are introduced to the theory, development, and practice behind the use of analytics in sports. This course will give students an opportunity to explore the tools necessary to evaluate performance, recognize trends, and forecast outcomes.

“Data analytics has become a norm in many industries and sports is not any different,” Academy Provost Dr. Tomi Wahlstrom said. “Quantitative methods and statistics can be used to make better decisions in athlete selection and many other scenarios. The use of data analytics saves money and improves decision making. Therefore, it is only natural that the Academy would offer a course in this subject area.”

The concept of analytics has never been more prevalent in the world of sports. Major League Baseball has set the benchmark for the use of analytics in decision making, with some of the game’s brightest young minds in leadership having never played the game at a high level. Baseball executives like Chicago Cubs President of Operations Theo Epstein (who never played baseball at the professional level) has been perhaps the most visible recent proponent of sports analytics, guiding both the Boston Red Sox and Cubs to World Series championships using data and statistical analysis to build winning teams.

Analytics is also being used by the National Hockey League, where teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs have hired full-time management team members with largely analytical backgrounds. The Professional Golf Association (PGA) also collects vast amounts of data throughout the season, tracking each shot a player makes in tournament play and collecting data on how far the ball travels and where the ball lands in relation to the cup. Data is then used by players to hone their skills and prepare for the next tournament.

Find out more about the Academy’s academic programs here, or contact to inquire about registration.