The story of how a new generation of tech-savvy franchise owners is reshaping every aspect of professional sports.
In the last two decades, innovation, data analysis, and technology have driven a tectonic shift in the sports business. Game of Edges is the story of how sports franchises evolved, on and off the field, from raggedly run small businesses into some of the most systematically productive companies around.
In today’s game, everyone from the owners to the marketing staff are using information—data—to give their team an edge. For analysts, an edge is their currency. Figuring out that bunting hurts your offense? That’s an edge. So is discovering metrics that can predict the career arc of your free agent shooting guard. Or combing through a decade of ticket-buying data to target persuadable fans.
These small, incremental steps move a sports franchise from merely ordinary to the leading edge. Franchises today are more than just sports; they integrate a whole suite of other businesses—television and digital content, gambling and real estate, fashion and apparel, entertainment, catering and concessions, and much more. But an optimized franchise has no room for error. Teams must do what the numbers say, reducing the element of chance, limiting those random moments of athletic heroism that make sports thrilling to watch. Optimization also means the franchise’s main goal isn’t championships anymore; it’s keeping you, the viewer, engaged with the product.
Drawing on extensive interviews with franchise owners, general managers, executives, and players, Bruce Schoenfeld introduces dynamic leaders who are radically reimagining the operations of these decades-old teams—and producing mind-boggling valuations. He joins the architects of the Golden State Warriors dynasty for an exclusive reception before tip-off. He stands among the faithful at Anfield, watching Liverpool’s analytics guru size up a prized midfielder. And he watches the president of the Chicago Cubs break ground on a new DraftKings gambling parlor at Wrigley Field, not ten miles from the site of the original Black Sox betting scandal.
Essential reading for anyone interested in sports, business, or technology, Game of Edges explores a world where winning the game is only the beginning.