A revolution in sports data

Year after year, Paul Tudor Jones, founder of the hedge fund Tudor Investment Corporation (TIC), which specializes in systematic investing approaches, has somehow never been able to find a systematic approach when it comes to choosing the fantasy football team that will own him would provide with the wins he needed. His business success never seemed to translate to his passion for running a fantasy sports team. Now, Jones decided, it was time to finally do something about his lost fantasy football teams, and maybe even make a business out of it. His son, Jack Jones, co-founded the company with his father and even delayed his studies at the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he earned his master’s degree in data science, because of the potential benefits of playing an integral role in such a company participate. Ultimately, this is how SumerSports was born.

The name they came up with, SumerSports, derives from the word Sumer – the ancient Mesopotamian culture known to have had the first humans to use numbers to analyze various systems. Jones himself was inspired by this mentality because, just like in business, he tries to use numbers instead of “dumb luck”. When it comes to choosing a fantasy team, or even for NFL owners and managers picking players, they should use numbers more often as well. Managers have led teams without focusing on skills for too long, and Jones thought there was a method that would reshape the structure and perhaps pave the way for more competitive approaches to team building.

The question remains: How convenient is this company for established frontrunners in professional sports like the NFL? Just because it works for a fantasy football team doesn’t mean it will work for NFL managers. Coincidentally, this new company had already worked with two NFL teams prior to its official launch. Sumer Sports’ main goal is to focus on the individualized player tracking data along with the risks and benefits of paying a specific salary and seeing how it fits the team’s needs and salary cap. The way Jones views his portfolio in the stock market is how he believes NFL owners and managers need to view their teams. Just as there is some capital constraint, these NFL teams also have to contend with a salary cap, which happened to be $208.2 million in 2022.

While it can be interesting to make a connection between analyzing stocks and analyzing soccer players, the correlation may not be as strong and simple as it seems. For example, when it comes to NFL football, not only do you look at the player’s individual stats and injury history, but there’s always a reason the player played at a certain level, but that’s usually not the player’s fault himself. Take a wide receiver for example: first there is the quarterback throwing the ball to him, but before the quarterback throws the ball, the quarterback is protected by offensive linemen who may have been well conditioned by coaches chosen by the coaching staff, etc … The list is so complex that it is very difficult for most to dedicate the time and energy to keep track of everything. In addition, many offensive and defensive players are on the field at the same time. SumerSports’ focus is to combat these issues by using special granular data that enlarges the field and behind-the-scenes activity into the smallest bits they can possibly think of. It will take every second of the game action to see the various moves that are being made and not just on a superficial level who is driving the team’s successes and failures, but also who is contributing to those games, albeit potentially is not the case is so easy to say.
SumerSports chose to partner with a talented group of investment analysts, software developers, sports analysts and data scientists to bring their knowledge of data, sports, technology and analytics. They are optimistic that this project could potentially revolutionize the way we think about sports analytics in general and improve future career prospects for the industry.

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Photo credit: Pixabay


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