Fanalytics University Class 1: Preliminaries


This summer we are developing a podcast version of my course on sports analytics. I’ve been teaching this class for almost a decade and the idea of taking it to a broader audience is exciting. Doing it via a podcast format with a limited visual element is daunting.


The first episode is a lot like the standard first day of a college class. Its introductions of the staff and a glimpse into the material ahead. I am Mike Lewis and I’m a professor with 20 years of experience in applying statistics and optimization techniques to studying sports analytics, consumer loyalty, and brand equity. I’ll be joined by Douglas J. Battle during this series. Doug is a communications professional and sports journalist who will serve as the student.


The class itself is a project of Emory University’s Marketing Analytics Center. We are taking the current crisis as an opportunity to think about the reinvention of higher education. I can see a world where we teach with a combination of podcasts, online reference materials, Zoom chats and experiential projects. This is the first step in making this new model a reality.


My plan is to use the blog for some limited visual elements, some key material, and as a discussion forum. For today’s class, I have two items. The first is an informal statement of my philosophy for teaching sports analytics. The second is the “syllabus” or plan for the series. I will also end each blog post with assignments for next class.


Enjoy and Engage!


The Philosophy: Organizations should be designed to create valuable life-long fans.  Some of this can be done via marketing (creating experiences, having great food) but the big thing is winning and creating a team people care about and love. In other words,Organizations should be designed to win. Winning generates the stories and communities that create valuable fans.



Also streaming on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Stitcher.


The Syllabus:


Class 1: Preliminaries

  • Who we are and what this is about. We also tell the story of why we are doing the class and go over the syllabus.

Class 2: The Framework

  • Class 2 presents a framework for thinking about the creation, management, and value of fandom.  A “Big Picture” perspective on the sports enterprise. This is sports analytics for the team or league president. 

Class 3: The Nature of Fandom

  • A deep dive into what drives fans.  The psychological and sociological factors that drive fandom. The key words are Identity and Community. 

Class 4: Advanced Statistics

  • A discussion about the creation of advanced statistics. How to create an evaluate advanced sports statistics.

Class 5: In-Game Decision Making

  • Using data and optimization techniques to make better in-game decisions.


Class 6: Analytics and Decision Biases

  • Classes 4 and 5 are about producing “analytics”. We shift to using analytics within organizations.  Your math is great kid. Now how do we get the GM to care? 

Class 7: Fan & Team Relationships

  • In Class 7 we will shift to the relationship between fans and consumers.  We will talk about the nature of brand-consumer relationships and most importantly about how to measure it.  Once you measure it then you can potentially start to link other parts of analytics to the ultimate objective of creating valuable fan loyalty.

Class 8: League Structure and Competitive Balance

  • We wrap up the course with one of my favorite topics – league structure and competitive balance. League structure and the rules of the league are incredibly important because they are the “rules” of the game.  The “rules” dictate how teams make decisions, and team’s decisions are what ultimately determine fan interest.

Preparation for Class 2

  • Spread the word and engage. Leave a comment after you listen to the podcast. Help us spread the word via Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Next class will be in about 2 weeks, but the regular podcast will continue. 

  • Assignments

  • Google “intense sports fan." 

  • Reflect on your fandom.

  • Who are your favorite players and teams?

  • Where did your fandom come from? What were the key events?  Who were the key people?

  • How has your fandom changed over your life?


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