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  • Writer's pictureJo Clubb

Big data. Big potential. Big problems?

Updated: May 14

This new open access editorial discusses the state of big data in sports and the data rights, ethics, and governance associated with such data collection.


I am excited to share a new open-access editorial in the British Medical Journal Open Sport and Exercise Medicine. Led by Dr Stephen West, this is a critical reflection on the state of big data in sports.


There has been a proliferation in the data generated in sports. From a performance perspective, we have witnessed a rapid evolution in the data we collect from training and competition player tracking to biomechanical, physical performance, and subjective markers. Beyond sports science, there are a multitude of other areas throughout the sport landscape that conduct and contribute to data collection.


"Big data is not, however, simply a consequence of technological advancement; it has wider consequences both within and beyond sports. While these changes have provided new opportunities to impact player welfare and performance, they require proactive data management review and reform, particularly in sports science and medicine. The era of big data in sports is upon us, and it’s a game changer."


I am an advocate of data collection in sport. However, we have a responsibility to conduct this in an appropriate, safe, and secure manner. This open access editorial explores some of the data rights and ownership, management and access, ethics, governance, and policy issues that we need to be aware of.


You can access the full text here on BMJ Open.


West SW, Clubb J, Blake TA, et al Big data. Big potential. Big problems? BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2024;10:e001994. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2024-001994


Figure 1 entitled data contributors, conductors and consumers. Circles increasing in size surround the inner circle of athlete, expanding into circles for each of staff, organisation, league, external bodies, fans. The colour of each circle aligns with coloured textboxes outside of the circles that demonstrate data contributors for each layer, such as social media, performance, and business ventures for the athlete. Inspired by the socio-ecological model.



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