Earlier this week, the NWHL introduced a partnership with hockey analytics firm Stathletes, which can present knowledge for the league’s groups throughout the condensed 2021 season. The marketing campaign will encompass 15 video games starting Jan. 23 and end with the Isobel Cup ultimate Feb. 5.
The NWHL is simply the newest consumer to associate with Stathletes, which works with numerous European professional leagues and NHL groups. The Hockey Information caught up with Stathletes co-founder Meghan Chayka this week to debate the NWHL partnership, Stathletes’ different ventures, her advocacy for ladies in sports activities and extra.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: How did Stathletes strike up the partnership with the NWHL? Did one group method the opposite or was there mutual curiosity between you and NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia?
MEGHAN CHAYKA: I really met Ty by way of being on a baseball committee for range and inclusion and at a convention. We had been on this committee for the previous three years attempting to get new individuals into baseball analytics that usually had been undeserved or constrained, whether or not it was by cash or as a result of they weren’t the normal white males that work in baseball analytics. Our hyperlink was by way of one other NHL group, and her husband (Ben Cherington) had labored for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now he’s GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So we had a number of mutual overlaps. And I believe she’s very very like me when it comes to not being a conventional hockey particular person. She was managing in minor-league baseball and is only a lady who will get work finished and is aware of how enterprise goes.
So we had all the time linked over varied issues means earlier than she took on this function as commissioner. I wasn’t stunned she pulled off a bubble in what’s an iconic area (Lake Placid’s Herb Brooks Area). I’m tremendous impressed and completely satisfied to see this undergo and make an impression when it comes to ladies’s hockey for this 12 months.
THN: The NWHL deal attracts a number of consideration as a result of it’s a league-encompassing partnership with a serious North American hockey league. Nevertheless it’s not the one league-wide deal Stathletes has made, proper?
CHAYKA: We’ve been doing leagues for years, most likely half a decade. The great factor about Stathletes is that we’re B2B, so we don’t do a number of advertising. Nearly all of our job may be very nerdy (laughs), very data- and tech-driven and rightfully so. It doesn’t get that a lot press protection (laughs). We like that. To be sincere, I’ve operated in ladies’s hockey in varied methods behind closed doorways, too. And I used to be completely completely satisfied doing this not as a partnership or one thing that was printed. I’ve an quantity of ladies’s hockey work that I attempt to do. I set inner targets for myself every year, perhaps partly as a result of I’m a girl, however I additionally assume it’s the best factor to do.
I nonetheless really feel like I face comparable challenges as ladies athletes do. Particularly throughout COVID. It’s actually disproportionately impacted ladies in enterprise, and I concern it’s going to in sports activities as properly. So it was about making an influence, and I do know we’ve seen buyers step up in soccer as properly and in different ladies’s sports activities. It actually has elevated not solely the fan base, however the curiosity in ladies’s sports activities.
THN: The NWHL’s press launch talks about participating followers. Does that imply all the info will probably be made public? I’m picturing the cool graphical renderings you usually characteristic by yourself Twitter account. Is that what we needs to be imagining? Is that the kind of content material that will probably be rolled out for NWHL followers?
CHAYKA: No, as a result of it’s very laborious to host and distribute. Loads of what I’ll be doing is supporting the league internally when it comes to understanding what’s occurring within the recreation, ensuring it’s appropriate. Knowledge integrity and accuracy is among the most vital issues you are able to do in sports activities, and that’s the place we dangle our hat with a number of leagues. For me, 99.9 % of my time is working in males’s hockey. However this presents alternatives the place I can perceive the operations in a number of element and see the gaps from the ladies’s facet. So I’d say a number of my time and assets for this very brief event will go towards determining find out how to assist the ladies’s recreation and this sort of league in the easiest way I can.
As for among the actually enjoyable social content material, for certain we’ll do issues like shifting GIFs and issues that provide you with extra insights into how the ladies play. As a result of actually, past among the hits – there’s nonetheless a number of contact in ladies’s hockey, which lots of people don’t perceive – it’s similar to the boys’s recreation. There aren’t any definitions we have now to vary. There’s nothing we alter when it comes to monitoring the ladies’s recreation. So I’ll take shared assets we’ve constructed over the past decade in males’s hockey and match no matter is sensible on this very brief format.
THN: So can these graphical renderings present the precision of execution of a given play, highlighting the standard of play that may be on par with males’s hockey?
CHAYKA: Yeah, completely. Except you present up on a field rating in ladies’s hockey, historically it’s misplaced. Even a number of the sport tape is difficult to search out. So there’s a number of gamers who don’t have an understanding of their full play or their event or recreation that I believe deserve much more highlight – as the boys’s recreation will get.
THN: That’s an amazing level. I’m picturing an NHLer like Rasmus Andersson, who’s a great defensive participant and will get the respect he deserves because of analytics. However you don’t get to see the identical stage of appreciation for the unsung ladies’s gamers who do issues apart from rating.
CHAYKA: Precisely. And a line I exploit that somebody mentioned concerning the WNBA: With out knowledge, you don’t have historical past on these ladies. I all the time took that with me.
THN: From a sample-size perspective, does an abbreviated NWHL season current challenges for correct knowledge assortment?
CHAYKA: There are positively some occasions that don’t happen usually in hockey, so those who have small pattern sizes of the observations, it’s harder to do superior fashions and have any statistical significance. However I’d say, whether or not it’s passing or capturing, even in a single recreation I believe the evaluation is efficacious. Positively totally different than an 82-game season to say the least. And in ladies’s hockey, we don’t have a ton of continuity. I’ve labored the Olympics for CBC, I did the ladies’s facet. I did the World Championship. I used to be additionally on the IIHF’s first teaching clinic that they had on the Girls’s World Championship. And simply attempting to get sufficient knowledge on a few of these ladies’s gamers as they transfer by way of totally different leagues, there hasn’t been an excessive amount of consistency when it comes to the place they play and who they play in opposition to or with. In order that’s much more difficult than with the normal males’s leagues. Nevertheless it presents alternatives for knowledge to assist clarify it.
THN: When individuals see the information of the NWHL partnership, the pure query to ask is whether or not Stathletes hopes to strike a league-wide partnership with the NHL sometime. We all know you already work with many groups, however is an NHL deal on the horizon?
CHAYKA: I’m not allowed to reveal that, however I’ll say we have now a number of scale. One of the simplest ways to place it could be that, I believe, even in COVID, particularly for leagues and drafting and scouting, knowledge is that rather more at a premium. So we’ve by no means been busier, and we had been already busy pre-COVID. Understanding these gamers from a knowledge perspective when groups can’t have scouts within the stands goes to be that rather more vital as we roll by way of this 12 months. As a lot as I get praised for among the ladies’s hockey work, we’ve finished 10 instances that when it comes to the boys’s facet. With out being profitable, I wouldn’t be capable to have the assets to assist ladies.
THN: Since you’re a constantly sturdy advocate not only for ladies’s sports activities however ladies in sports activities, is the NWHL partnership notably near your coronary heart?
CHAYKA: Positively. I see a number of the reflections of the pushback ladies athlete’s get. It mirrors what I get, whether or not it’s in enterprise or from followers. I see the advertising and positioning not solely of ladies athletes however ladies in sport – that we could be highly effective and never be put down and be assertive or achieve success. As a result of the period of time I’ve had different male-led firms mainly say, “Step apart. Thanks for beginning with this consumer. We’ll take over. It’s a males’s group.” The quantity of that kind of atmosphere I’ve seen, ladies athletes really feel that, too. Each time cash or sponsorships are concerned, rapidly the boys get .
That’s why I’ve all the time made a mandate that, regardless of how or the place I transfer by way of my profession, whether or not I get something again from it, I do consider in karma. By doing the best factor and being a great particular person, you’ll entice the best individuals each to your organization and as shoppers. I actually attempt to set these objective posts for myself. I’ve a number of disappointment and individuals who have let me down, however I believe you construct stronger relationships that means.
For a 2019 Hockey Information Story on Chayka and the creation of Stathletes, click on right here.