Big Data Bowl

The annual analytics contest explores statistical innovations in football — how the game is played and coached.

Welcome to the NFL’s Big Data Bowl

The annual sports analytics contest from NFL Football Operations challenges members of the analytics community – from college students to professionals – to contribute to the NFL’s continuing evolution of the use of advanced analytics. The crowd-sourced competition uses data and technology to spur innovation that results in creating new insights, making the game more exciting for fans and protecting players from unnecessary risk.

Powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), contestants use traditional football data and Next Gen Stats to analyze and rethink trends and player performance, while also advancing the way football is played and coached. The Big Data Bowl aims to engage and empower the football analytics community to drive innovation.

The Fourth Annual Big Data Bowl

The fourth annual Big Data Bowl has launched!

Using Next Gen Stats powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the theme of the 2021-22 Big Data Bowl is to devise innovative approaches to analyzing special teams in the NFL. Participants have access to three years of special teams data and are challenged to identify what strategies and players make for successful punt, kickoff, field-goal and extra-point play.

Using this real-time data across a wide variety of players, plays and situations, participants will propose statistical, data-driven solutions. Participants will also be able to use PFF Scouting data, which features play, player and game characteristics derived from film analyses.

“We are extremely proud of the innovative ways the NFL and our partners continue to use data and analytics to advance our game, and the success of the Big Data Bowl is an important part of this evolution,” said Michael Lopez, NFL senior director of football data and analytics. “Since its inception, our annual crowd-sourcing contest has connected us with talented individuals around the world and enabled us to create a pipeline of jobs across the NFL and beyond. This talent pool is spurring innovation and ensuring an even brighter future for the league, teams and players.”

Finalists will be announced in early 2022 and will share a prize of $100,000 provided by AWS.

The Big Data Bowl Structure

Each year, the NFL Big Data Bowl calls on professional and aspiring amateur data scientists to devise innovative approaches to a specific challenge. Participants propose statistical, data-driven solutions using real-time data across a wide variety of players, plays and situations.

Listen in as experts explain the Big Data Bowl.

The call for participants typically is in the fall and the competition runs into early January. Entrants compete in two groups — College, featuring undergraduate and graduate students and Open, featuring young professionals not in higher education. Participants can work independently or form teams with other colleagues.

NFL club analytics staff judge each submission and work with NFL Football Operations staff to narrow down the finalists. Finalists then present their entry at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to a panel of judges. In recent years, judges have included NFL Network predictive analytics expert, Cynthia Frelund, former Big Data Bowl participants, AWS data scientists and NFL linebacker Najee Goode.

Contestants in each year’s Big Data Bowl compete for prizes ranging from game tickets to cash, including a $100,000 prize for the 2020-21 competition. Even if participants do not finish as a finalist, the Big Data Bowl has served as a pipeline with NFL teams or their affiliate vendors hiring more than a dozen participants since the initial competition in 2018-19.

Stay tuned to hear more about the next Big Data Bowl competition by following the NFL Football Operations Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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