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 sixth Annual Big Data Bowl

Using Next Gen Stats powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), the theme of the 2024 Big Data Bowl was examining tackling performance across the NFL. Participants had access to data from weeks 1-9 of the 2022 NFL season analyzing the location, speed and acceleration of all 22 players on the field, along with the location of the football during a given play.

Other Pro Football Focus (PFF) scouting data and advanced statistics such as expected points and win probability were also included. As in the 2019-2023 Big Data Bowls, the 2024 Big Data Bowl is hosted by Kaggle, the world’s largest community of machine learning practitioners, learners, and researchers.

(AP/Todd Rosenberg)

(AP/Todd Rosenberg)

Back for this season's Big Data Bowl is the coaching-centric track, encouraging coaches to partner with data scientists on a submission. Additional tracks include the undergraduate track, open to groups or individuals composed entirely of undergraduate students, as well as the metric track, requiring contestants to create a metric that assesses performance or strategy. For each of these tracks, contestants may focus on offensive or defensive players and develop insights on either an individual or team level.

“The Big Data Bowl has proven to be a strong pipeline for people aspiring to work in football analytics," said Mike Lopez, NFL Senior Director, Football Data and Analytics. “The football data and analytics landscape continues to evolve and our partnership with Next Gen Stats, AWS, and the data science community positions us to provide the tools for innovative ideas, metrics and research to enhance the game."

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.

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 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.

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