NFL Teams Are Analyzing Everything From The Salary Cap To Fan Loyalty

Carl Bialik: Did you know the history of analytics in the NFL before you joined the league?Paraag Marathe: I definitely did. When I came into the league in 2001, analytics was certainly more prevalent in baseball. It was just starting to become prevalent in basketball. The NFL was sort of the latest adopter. You see it a lot more now. Unlike baseball, where it’s all around player evaluation, the NFL is more complicated. It’s much more of a team sport, with much more covariance between positions. Is a running back’s success due to his ability to break away, or his line’s ability to run-block, or his quarterback’s ability to pass, which makes the run easier?But the NFL also has two other areas where analytics plays a big role. The first is game management: How you manage the clock, when to go on fourth down, the run/pass play selection, those sorts of things. The second is the salary cap. With the advent of the salary cap in 1994, and where I made my mark with the 49ers and the NFL, is managing the salary cap much more analytically, similar to how a portfolio manager would manage a stock portfolio, managing risk.CB: I’ve read that you’ve applied analytics to fans. How does that work and what have you learned about what they want?PM: Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. And it’s not just what they want, as in, what are their desires when they come to stadium, in terms of what they want to consume — content, beverages, coming closer to the game — but also the lifetime value of a fan. When you capture a fan’s loyalty, someone who becomes a fan at an early age, they will stay there. There’s a lot of loyalty. For professional teams 20 years ago, maybe as recently as 15 years ago, the vice president of marketing was all around what’s the cheerleader uniform and what’s the rallying cry for team. Now it’s all around what’s the content for the website, what’s the lifetime value of a fan, and so on. It’s much, much more analytical.CB: How did you first connect with Bill Walsh?PM: I was working at a consulting company, Bain and Co., on a bunch of sports-related projects. Bill Walsh and Terry Donahue were looking at drafts — not the players themselves, but draft slots. Is there a better algorithm, a better way to do the draft chart? It was a three-month project. I was the junior guy on the team. We sort of hit it off, and they asked me to come on board full-time.CB: How often, while you’ve been on the job, have people asked you if you’ve played football? How did you answer?PM: They either asked me, or they just assumed I didn’t. If they did ask me, I didn’t play college football, and I barely played high school football. I played baseball growing up, mostly. If you’re asking, did I feel like an outsider from the beginning when I started, I certainly did, but times have changed, and you earn respect with the work you do.CB: What was the status of analytics at the 49ers when you arrived?PM: It was a one-man show. To be fair, I never really did that much. It wasn’t so much on evaluating player talent on the field. It was a lot on the salary cap and how to be more efficient on managing the cap.CB: How about now?PM: We’ve got four or five folks, whether helping scouts better evaluate players, helping coaches, as well as the salary cap.CB: Has the whole organization bought into analytics?PM: Yeah, I’d like to think so. It’s definitely more accepted around the league. The Ravens just hired a head of their analytics department in 2012. You see it all across the board now. Clubs are trying to look for any competitive advantage they can. It’s not just, spend $1 more than the next team, it’s, what’s every competitive advantage you can squeeze out of this product?CB: Is it tough to find good people, with so many teams hiring?PM: No, I wouldn’t say that. There are so many good analysts across traditional industries, and sports is still such a sexy field, that there is no shortage of good talent. There are a lot of people who want to work in sports. Just go to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference every year.CB: How important is it to be able to communicate the findings to people who aren’t technical?PM: At the end of the day, it boils down to this. The information is only as good as it is to the person receiving it. I’ll take a C+ piece of analysis communicated perfectly over an A+ piece of analysis that’s not communicated well. Only a small portion of the work is the analytics itself. The rest is putting it in a practical format so the salary-cap person and the coach can appreciate it and use it. Instead of trying to go overboard with analytics, focus on the practical: Focus on the things that have the highest impact on your organization.CB: Because of the importance of retaining a competitive advantage, do you generally not disclose specifically what you’re looking at, and what you’re finding?PM: Generally speaking, we don’t really talk about a lot of those things. But it’s not just analytics. In nutrition, sleep studies, and psychological aspects, people are looking for advantages every place they can.CB: Can you detect the spread of analytics in the league from how hard it is to get certain players in the draft, or from tactics of opponents?PM: It’s mostly through conversations. I’ve been in the league now 14 years, and just having conversations with people in every level, I’m starting to see changes. Not starting to see — there’s been a lot of changes.CB: Is analytics work being done within teams better than the work done outside it?PM: Yes and no. That’s a tough question to answer. There are only 32 teams and there are seven billion people. There’s a lot of stuff that’s not even published that’s probably really good. The difference between what’s happening with teams and what’s happening in the ether, is what’s out there is pretty theoretical, whereas what teams do has to be pretty actionable. The most actionable things are being done in clubs, but I’m sure there are some excellent things being done out there.CB: Which analytics publications do you read?PM: Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, different blogs, even you guys do some awesome stuff. All the stuff that’s done is really good.CB: You said in 2005 that even at 45 or 50, you’ll never be a football guy. Do you still feel that way?PM: That was almost 10 years ago. What I meant is, not having played or coached the game, it’s just different. I don’t understand the nuances of the Xs and Os, nor do I try to, in terms of schemes and things like that. There’s no point in me trying really hard to be average at something. It’s important to focus on the things I know I can do well, like manage the salary cap. I won’t be a coach or GM, nor do I aspire to be.CB: Does the NFL support analytics sufficiently? For instance, you’ve criticized the rule barring computers from the coaches’ booth.PM: They’re still getting better. There’s the rule against laptops, even calculators. It’s difficult for an offensive coordinator to even capture simple things like average yards per play on a drive, or how successful a certain play has been, in terms of even crunching it in Excel. They have to do it on a notepad. Things like that are frustrating. I wish they would react a little faster to technology changes. They’re getting there. Now they’re allowing tablets on the sidelines, so you don’t have to have the binder full of photos of plays. The FiveThirtyEight film “The Cowboys and the Indian,” which debuted last week, tells the story of A. Salam Qureishi, who brought computerized player analytics to the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s. At the time, few other pro sports front offices used advanced statistics to make decisions about player acquisition and game management.By 2001, that wasn’t the case in baseball, but the NFL hadn’t progressed much since Qureishi’s days. That year, Paraag Marathe joined the San Francisco 49ers as a one-man team with goals similar to Qureishi’s: improve player acquisition.Marathe, like Qureishi, is of Indian descent. Unlike Qureishi, he knew a lot about football before working in the NFL. Marathe grew up in the Bay Area town of Saratoga, California, as a big fan of the 49ers and other Bay Area teams. He worked for the 49ers first as a consultant, on a three-month stint from the consulting firm Bain and Co. Then San Francisco executive Bill Walsh offered him a full-time job. “It was a no-brainer for me,” Marathe said in a telephone interview last week.Today, Marathe, 37, is one of the elder statesmen of NFL analytics. He oversees it for the 49ers as team president. He sees more of his competitors using similar tools, looking for every competitive advantage they can find. (We spoke last week amid a late-season slump that has eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs after three straight conference-championship-game appearances.) In the following transcript of our interview — lightly edited for brevity and clarity — Marathe explains why it remains easy to hire talented analysts, why communication is more important than statistical rigor and why plenty of good work is still being done outside the league. San Francisco 49ers President Paraag Marathe speaks at the annual Bay Area college football media day at Levi’s Stadium on July 30 in Santa Clara, Calif. Alex Washburn / AP read more

MBTA To Increase Cost Of Parking At Wilmington Station By 50

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Beginning August 1, the price to park in the MBTA parking lot at Wilmington Station will increase from $4 to $6 on weekdays, and decrease from $4 to $2 on weekends.Wilmington’s parking lot consists of 191 parking spaces. The lot is regularly filled up by 7am on weekday mornings.After reviewing usage at its 99 parking lots and garages, the MBTA recently decided to adjust parking prices at more than half of its facilities.Wilmington is one of 32 MBTA parking facilities that will see a weekday price increase.  21 parking facilities will actually see a decrease in cost, while the cost at 46 parking facilities — including North Wilmington — will remain the same.The MBTA’s Governing Board approved the proposal on Monday, resulting in the MBTA’s first large scale parking price increase in 10 years. The T hopes to generate an additional $6.5 million from this new pricing strategy during its next fiscal year.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… RelatedMBTA To Install Solar Panels At Wilmington Center Parking LotIn “Govenrment”SELECTMEN NEWS: Board Grapples With Whether To Eliminate 5 Daily Stops At N. Wilmington Commuter Rail StationIn “Government”MBTA Adds Extra Late-Night Commuter Rail Trains For This Weekend’s Lowell Folk FestivalIn “Government”last_img read more

China hails courage of North South Korean leaders

first_imgNorth Korea`s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and South Korea`s President Moon Jae-in (R) pose for a photo during their summit in the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom on 27 April. Photo: AFPChina on Friday heaped praised on the leaders of the two Koreas for holding a landmark summit, calling their handshake over the Military Demarcation Line that divides the peninsula a “historic moment”.“We applaud the Korean leaders’ historic step and appreciate their political decisions and courage,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing.“We hope and look forward to them taking this opportunity to further open a new journey of long-term stability on the peninsula.”She also cited a poem that reads: “We remain brothers after all the vicissitudes; let’s forgo our old grudges, smiling we will meet again.”China is North Korea’s sole major ally but it has supported a series of United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile tests.Beijing has pressed for dialogue to peacefully resolve the nuclear crisis.last_img

New Indian envoy to arrive 1 Mar

first_imgIndian high commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das. Photo: UNBNewly appointed Indian High commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das is scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on Friday to take up her assignment, said a diplomat on Wednesday, reports UNB.Riva Ganguly, a senior diplomat, was serving as the director general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who was Indian High commissioner here, is now Indian ambassador to the United States of America (USA).Born on 24 December 1961, Riva Ganguly obtained a postgraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Delhi in 1984.She later taught Political Science at the University of Delhi before joining the Indian foreign service in 1986.last_img

Who Might Be In Donald Trumps Cabinet Plus More About The Transition

first_imgGETTY IMAGESFormer House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign CEO Stephen Bannon have all been mentioned as possibilities for major roles in the president-elect’s administration. L: Alex Wong, Brett Carlsen, Mandel Ngan/Getty ImagesThe election just ended and the new president doesn’t even take office until Jan. 20. But the transition planning starts now.Who’s going to be President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state? His chief of staff? His education secretary? Now that the news of Trump’s election has settled, speculation over how the president-elect will fill out his administration has consumed Washington.Houston Public Media’s Coverage of Election 2016Keeping in mind the truism that nobody who knows is talking, and those who are talking don’t really know, here are some of the names being floated, leaked and speculated about.Let’s start with chief of staff, a key position that will influence the filling of many others. The name of Reince Priebus, currently chairman of the Republican National Committee, has often been mentioned. Priebus was a steady backer of Trump, when many in the party establishment wanted nothing to do with the brash businessman, and put the party’s apparatus behind Trump’s campaign.New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who quickly gave his support to Trump after being vanquished by him in the primary campaign, has also been mentioned in connection with this job or another post in the incoming administration. Christie has been serving as head of the Trump transition team.Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was spotted taking a long walk on the White House grounds with Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough during Trump’s Oval Office visit with President Obama Thursday, leading some to speculate that he could be in line for the post.Also add to the list of potential chiefs of staff Steve Bannon, who served as Trump’s campaign chief after coming over from the conservative website Breitbart News.Another longtime Trump backer is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Could he be the next secretary of state? Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City who acted as Trump’s attack dog on the campaign trail, is said to be interested in becoming attorney general.A couple of members of the U.S. Senate might also be tapped for posts. Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions for secretary of defense? Or maybe Tennessee’s Bob Corker for secretary of state.For homeland security, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas could make the list. Another Texas congressman, Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, is reportedly under consideration as Treasury secretary.Another Trump aide, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that she has been offered an unspecified White House job.And if Trump wants to go rogue, Sarah Palin is among those rumored to be interested in becoming secretary of the interior.Beyond the names, here are five things to know about the transition, including how many jobs the new president needs to fill and whether the Obama administration will need to help.1. Why all this talk about the transition now?Because this is a really big deal. Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, calls it “the most complicated takeover, not only on the planet, but in history.” Handing over the keys of the government means taking control of an operation with some 4 million employees, both civilian and military, and a $4 trillion budget. Huge numbers, even by the standards of Donald Trump. In fact, the Trump and Clinton campaigns actually began work preparing for the transition back in August.2. How many jobs does the new president have to fill?There are some 4,000 political appointments for the incoming administration to fill. Every Cabinet agency needs a secretary and top staff. Each federal agency, an administrator. And of the 4,000 top jobs, one-quarter of them require Senate confirmation.According to the Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition, “best practice generally dictates having White House positions filled by Thanksgiving, and the most important Cabinet positions ready to announce between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” to give time for the nominees to prepare for their confirmation hearings.3. Is the Obama administration helping or hindering the president-elect’s team takeover?It seems President Obama, who called Trump “temperamentally unfit” for office during the campaign, and Trump, who questioned Obama’s American birth, have moved on, at least publicly. The White House has long said Obama wants to ensure that the transition to the Trump administration is smooth. And federal legislation passed in 2010 ensures a degree of cooperation, including providing government office space for the president-elect’s team as well as IT support. Trump transition team members will soon be visiting individual agencies for briefings with what’s been dubbed “landing teams.” The Government Services Administration, which oversees the logistics of the process, has a website here that explains the transition process.4. Have presidential transitions always been so coordinated?No. In 1960, for instance, President-elect John F. Kennedy didn’t even meet with the man he succeeded, President Dwight Eisenhower, until nearly a month after his election. And until recently the transition process had been sort of an underground operation, to avoid the perception of a candidate “measuring the drapes” of the Oval Office before even being elected.5. How can I get a job with the new administration?Not sure we can help you there, but you might want to check out Trump’s transition website.And this may not help you find employment, but the Government Accountability Office has a list of recommendations here about issues it thinks the new administration should address.Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Sharelast_img read more

Get some France in your system Delhi

first_imgAfter a successful stint in 2009, Bonjour India is back with its second edition in India.This three-month event from January to April will take place across the country over 16 cities. Organised by the Embassy of France in India and the Institut Français en Inde, in association with the Alliance Française India and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), this event is something they have been planning for two years. Speaking at the unveiling of the Bonjour India website, H.E. François Richier, Ambassador of France said: ‘Bonjour India is an invitation to discover and re-discover France through its whole artistic dimension. As a real cultural dialogue between French and Indian artists, Bonjour India shows the friendship that links France and India.’ Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Max Claudet, director, Institut Français en Inde, cultural counsellor French Embassy in India  highlighted the programmes scheduled and also gave an insight into the main purpose behind  the festival.He said: ‘The event will be inaugurated by Luminocity, by light sculptor Patrick Rimoux and Nandita Palchoudhuri in Delhi and Mumbai, also Ballet Preljocaj on the stage designed by Subodh Gupta as part of an exchange between India and France in the field of art, literature, cinema, education, sports, architecture, fashion, photography and performing arts.’ Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixThe programme will kickoff with contemporary ballet, and then, One thousand years of peace by Bolshoi Theatre, and a grand show by Subodh Gupta, an aerial acrobatic show, Flying Angels, and a multidisciplinary show, Luminocity. In the dance section, there will be urban ballet Ganga, a choreographic piece uniting poetry, music and dance. In the music section, there will be a concert of sarod and symphony orchestra with electronic music. Composer Pierre Thilloy and Avignon Symphony Orchestra will  be in  performance with sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Pain and Pleasure at the Court of Versailles is a Baroque music presentation by Amarillis ensemble. Christohe Chassol Indiamore and Scratch Bandits crew will also be performing.Gates to India Song will be a love story performed by Marguerite Duras with Indian artist Nandita Das. For visual arts, there are installations and interactive choreographic navigations called Bangalore Fictions, France Heritage bringing in the historical landmarks of France, Quintessence will showcase paintings by  Dominique Paulin and  photographs by Michel Kirch. There will also be exhibitions on urban development and sustainable architecture, photography and painting exhibitions by Anay Mann and Gigi Scaria, respectively revisiting French heritage in India,.Another aspect of this event will be the strong presence of French literary circle at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The celebrated Albert Camus’ birth centenary will also be celebrated across India through the event. Gear up Delhi.DETAILAt: 16 cities across IndiaWhen: January to April 2013last_img read more