The Development of a Data Base Management System for a National Hockey League (NHL) Team

Article excerpt

In this paper, the development of a statistical database management system for an NHL team is discussed. We begin with an illustration of the type of information commonly recorded on hockey players. The research and development of new video and computer technology have necessitated the expansion of these statistics both in the capture and in the analysis. The use of this management information system for various areas of decision making is emphasized. Such areas include job design and training, performance evaluation and contract negotiations.

In the past number of years, computer technology has made significant advancements in sports. More sports and sports organizations are using computers for a number of functions (Berger, 1991). Indeed, the utilization of computer technology in capturing league statistics is routine in some sports (see Albert & Hackel, 1986, for example). Further computers are being used to study behavioral patterns of players in practice and actual competition--both alone and in conjunction with videotaped highlights--to help coaches and management train individuals and assign specific tasks (Franks & Nagelkerke, 1988).

In this paper, we address a database management system that has been designed, developed and implemented for a particular team in the National Hockey League (NHL). We focus on the development of the system the present capabilities and the current functions that it now performs. We conclude this paper by addressing the direction of further development that is presently in progress.

Operational Issues

As has been described in the literature, there has been a recent increase in the number of sports that have implemented computer software to aid in the training of individuals and teams. (See Franks, Wilson & Goodman, 1987, and Finstad, 1983, for a discussion.) Specifically, coaches and management in sports have been utilizing the capacity of the computer to crunch numbers and to provide information during practices, during and after competition, and even during the off-season (as an aid for scouting and trading). This "request for information", along with the advent of faster, more powerful and cost efficient machines, has provided sports the opportunity to employ computers and information systems in order to make better decisions.

Sports teams particularly demand the ability to capture data in real time (i.e., during games) and process it immediately. In addition, they desire the capability, which was subsequently developed, to have the computer interact with video equipment whereby a video database is also created in real time. Further, these statistical and video databases can now be linked in such a way that searches and queries on one can be used to access information on the other. Although video disc technology has not been perfected to the point of feasible widespread implementation, it is easy to imagine a time when searching on statistical databases will provide simultaneous access to video images that will then appear directly on the computer monitor using multi-media screens.

During three National Hockey League seasons (1989-1992), one NHL team (the New York Rangers Hockey Club) had been followed and their management information system (MIS) needs analyzed. A statistical database management system (DBMS) was developed to specifications in order to address management information requirements and then installed in their current computer hardware. The development and implementation of this system is described below.

Present System Capabilities

The system that was developed is called SHARP (Statistical Hockey Analysis and Reporting Package). At present, SHARP can be used in real time whereby game statistics can be captured, recorded and the database updated. The present system uses a keyboard, however the technology is readily available that would allow interfacing through the use of a hand held key pad or mouse [See Figure 1 for an illustration of a template that can be placed on a computer tablet and used for real time data entry, Balthazard & Leonard, 1990)]. …