JC / Railbird


I just finished reading “Moneyball,” by Michael Lewis, the surprisingly engrossing story of how the Oakland A’s used statistical data to build a winning team. Like a lot of other racing fans, I have an overlapping interest in baseball stats, and I find it fascinating to follow another sport also afflicted with a sclerotic power structure, dominated by people who believe they know everything about their fans and how to put on the show or market their data. The result, a collective failure of imagination leading to a management culture more interested in brand caretaking than innovation, opens up intriguing little niches, exploitable market inefficiencies. In the late-1990s in baseball, the inefficiency was in statistical analysis; in the mid-2000s in racing, the inefficiency is in technology, which no one has quite figured out yet.

What the industry also hasn’t figured out is the benefit of making charts and statistics widely, easily, and freely available. Baseball has been pushed along by the growth of fantasy games, as well as the game’s stats nerds, and the obsessive and intelligent analysis of baseball data in both pursuits can be credited with — I think it’s fair to argue — keeping the sport in the mainstream even during during dark days such as the 1994 strike and the ongoing steroids scandal. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to conclude that racing could be similarly buoyed if it removed the hassle of finding any information at all about races run more than a week ago.

Related: Over on Handride, Patrick picks up on the news that Intel is producing chips that will substantially improve online video quality, sees a glorious opportunity for the industry.

1 Comment

I agree, for some reason the horse racing community seems to remain in the dark ages as far as technology goes. However the track I grew up near, Arlington, seemed to be so far ahead of its time then, I only wonder if it still is. I’d bet they still have the same technology that was “cutting edge” now as was there in 1992. Hopefully the horse racing circle will come out of the dark ages.

Posted by Jason on November 15, 2007 @ 4:52 pm