There’s not much to be done about the Cleveland Browns’ woes this season: The NFL team is 0-14 and looks to experience the first winless season since the 2008 Detroit Lions. Fans with bags over their heads have taken to calling them the “clowns.” It’s … not good. While there are many places for the club to lay blame, certainly one is at the feet of its scouts. It’s too late this season to solve the Brown’s recruiting problems, but a solution for 2017 might lie 3,733 miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean.
The London Irish, a professional rugby team that plays in England’s second division, has supplemented its human scouting intelligence with artificial intelligence to find the players that could help the club win more often, a technology tactic that might just help the hapless Browns in years to come.
Yes, researchers at London-based ASI Data Science have been tasked to help the London Irish out-do Moneyball by using big data to find new rugby players who can be recruited without breaking the bank.
While human scouts build a profile of a player based on hours of observation and offer counsel to the team’s financial managers on that player’s future, ASI seems to have sped up the process by implementing A.I. to do the analysis of collected data sets created during matches.
The Telegraph reports that ASI made a system that allows recruiters to enter the name of any rugby player and find other people with similar capabilities.
This search is enabled by sports data gathered by Opta, which collects information from every game held across most sports in 40 countries, and A.I. that ranks players on roughly 100 different factors. This allows the A.I. to find rugby players who have the skills London Irish wants to find in its new recruits.
The signs are clear: A.I. is going to change football on both sides of the pond, and even on the banks of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio.