This is a review of the social talent scouting research conducted by Elena Radicchi and Michele Mozzachiodi.
Teams are continuously on the lookout for new talent. A variety of tools are used to facilitate this process. First is human expertise – scouts have built up years of experience watching players at all levels, looking for those who demonstrate the skill necessary to become a professional. Statistical data is prolific, covering every imaginable quantifiable aspect of the game. New technologies such as play tracking software are now available to provide an additional layer of knowledge, allowing increased efficiency in forecasting of a player’s future. Social media can now be added to the list as a possible tool for the scouting process.
The goal of scouts and teams is to identify talented athletes before anyone else does. Social media is one way that more young players can gain exposure in order to be evaluated. Scouts have been able to start a dialogue with talented youngsters by using social media such as Twitter or Facebook. They can also monitor the social media accounts of these young players, giving them unique insight into their lives. This can be useful in monitoring behavior and personality and whether these increase their potential. Text mining could be used to extract data that can be analyzed regarding the attitudes of these young players.
There are a multitude of web tools available, one being the FB Player – Social Football Talent. This platform was developed to connect players and scouts/coaches. It provides a spot for the young players to display their skills for a wider audience. The FB Player database was analyzed, focusing on those who were registered as players. The majority of these players were 18 years of age or less. Players came from many different countries, including countries that are extensively scouted as they tend to have a greater proportion of talented players compared to other countries. This would indicate that even in these countries there are still young players who are not in a position to be seen by the scouts so they are looking to alternative methods to be noticed.
The players were typically motivated by the desire to have their skills noticed, a passion for the game, a need for a sense of belonging, or a desire to learn new skills.
In social talent scouting, social media provides scouts with the opportunity to start the scouting process sooner and to do it more efficiently. Young talent can be followed through social media and other on-line tools, decreasing the need for travel.
While social talent scouting will never replace the traditional scouting process, it can be used as an additional tool to improve the process and give scouts access to larger pool of young talent.
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