‘Game-Changing’ Careers at the Intersection of Sports and Data

Maren Butler sitting in the stands at Fenway Park

The thrill of a game-winning drive. The sigh of relief when a long-suffering franchise finally wins a championship. The fervor of a crowd when a game goes from tense to celebratory. 

Many would describe the communal joy among sports fans as euphoric. For some Babson alumni, that feeling is found both on the field and in a place many people don’t find joy: a spreadsheet.  

“It’s game-changing to make an impact in an industry that makes people happy,” says Maren Butler ’21, a manager of insights and analytics at Fenway Sports Management. “I want to keep using data to drive the business forward.” 

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects rapid growth for jobs in the data industry, specifically 23 percent growth by 2031 for analyst roles. Conversely, the intersection of data and professional sports is as old as the box score itself.  

With 3 percent of the Class of 2023 reporting jobs in entertainment and sports, it’s a field where graduates find both success and fulfillment in their young careers. While spreadsheets are part of it, it’s a data job that’s more than just looking at numbers all day. The roles blend that sport-fan euphoria with strategic thinking, 

“Analyzing numbers can be fun, but it really only matters when you like the numbers you’re analyzing,” says Alyssa (Lissy) Harris ’20, a senior consulting analyst at the Kraft Analytics Group. “There’s nothing more exciting than seeing the impact of a change you made across the stadium.” 

We caught up with recent graduates to see how their data analytic skills create direct impact in the professional sports industry and how their Babson education led the way. 

Maren Butler ’21 

Maren Butler ’21, manager of insights and analytics at Fenway Sports Management

After graduating, Butler worked in a business development role before taking her current job at Fenway Sports Management (FSM). It’s the sales and growth arm of Fenway Sports Group, which owns several sports franchises including the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. She loves it, despite being a Cleveland sports fan. 

Describe your current role: “I support FSM’s partnership sales efforts with leading data and insights to develop, grow, and maximize partnership revenue. We analyze consumer insights to understand our fans and demonstrate to brands how our fans align with their audiences. Consumer and fan intelligence lends itself to the Babson world, as we look at how businesses can use sports to drive revenue.” 

How does Babson inform your career? “I participated in the Red Sox Management Consulting Field Experience (MCFE) program. One of the big projects was to map the fan’s journey to Fenway Park, including transportation and how they interact with sponsorships. That project showed how much strategy and data go into these decisions. It opened my eyes to what you can accomplish in sports.” 

Alyssa (Lissy) Harris ’20 

Lissy Harris ’20, senior consulting analyst at Kraft Analytics Group

Harris grew up in Colorado but takes after her father, a Boston sports fan. It’s fitting she now works for the Kraft Analytics Group, a company under the Kraft Sports Group, which owns the New England Patriots and Revolution. As part of the consulting team, she helps professional leagues and teams use data to improve their revenue and interact with fans more authentically.  

Describe your current role: “We work with clients to improve their fans’ experiences and maximize revenue opportunities, which includes ticket sales, implementing marketing tactics and tools, organizational updates, and sponsorship evaluations. Sports and fan analytics used to just be ticketing data, but now we can track things like parking data, merchandising, and social media. There are so many sources of data to connect, and it’s so fun to see the patterns and outliers. We are taking the data and providing context to sell a story.”  

“Babson also taught me to think differently, which comes in handy when managing my own projects. Ask a lot of questions and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Innovate and think strategically. We are hired to help clients, and it’s important to think differently for them.” Lissy Harris ’20

How does Babson inform your career: “Babson taught me to be comfortable speaking to people and empowered my voice. I’ve been in meetings with owners and members of the C-Suite. Babson also taught me to think differently, which comes in handy when managing my own projects. Ask a lot of questions and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Innovate and think strategically. We are hired to help clients, and it’s important to think differently for them.” 

Shay Koss ’23 

Shay Koss in front of a sign of the NHL logo
Shay Koss ’23, fan engagement coordinator at the NHL 

Shay Koss created an opportunity for herself at Babson that now informs her young career. She was the first hockey analytics advisor at Babson, where she recorded in-game statistics for the men’s hockey team, created a statistics website, and managed a team of five other students. Now, the lifelong New York Rangers fan works at the National Hockey League (NHL) as a fan engagement coordinator. 

Describe your current role: “In the fan engagement, analytics, and research department, we are tasked with moving non-fans, casual fans, and avid fans through the fan funnel to expose them to more of the NHL and hockey in general. My main projects focus on fan-facing platforms, such as the Stanley Cup Bracket Challenge and All-Star Fan Vote.” 

How does Babson inform your career: “Babson provided me with the opportunity to take fascinating and challenging coursework to further my skills in sports management and business analytics. The Sports Application of Mathematics class with Professor Richard Cleary not only taught me about the business and mathematics side of sports, but it also exposed me to leaders working in the sports industry.” 

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