Who is Sarah Bailey? Meet Titans’ new Director of Football Research and Development
Sarah Bailey has been named as the Tennessee Titans' new Director of Football Research and Development. She was the Manager of Football Analytics with the Los Angeles Rams since 2017 and won a Super Bowl title there. The move to the Titans marks a logical progression in her career.
However, her meteoric rise in the NFL, after starting as an intern with the San Diego Chargers, is an inspiring story. Here is a lowdown into her history.
Sarah Bailey: From Canada to the NFL
Sarah Bailey's story begins in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. While studying at Fulton Secondary School, she was the resident sportsperson. Her forte was in track and field events, where she specialized as a middle-distance runner (800 and 1500 meter races).
In 2011, she got a chance to join Jacksonville University in Florida with a scholarship due to her performance in track races. She started studying Biology, but a year and a half down the line, she realized that her passion is mathematics. She then changed majors and joined the University of the Pacific.
After completing her degree there, Bailey got her chance in the NFL as an intern with the San Diego Chargers. She was more focused on digital media analytics in that job, but it set her up for a future in sports analytics.
She returned home to Canada to do a Master's in Statistics from Simon Fraser University. Focussing on sports statistics research, she participated in events like The NBA Hackathon and was part of the winning team in the Hockeygraphs Data Sprint Hackathon. Her postgraduate research focused on baseball research.
Because of her experience in sports, she was hired by the Los Angeles Rams. She began her career as a Sports Performance Analyst. It mainly involved, based on her own recollection, working with trainers and staff to analyze workload and optimize performance. Later, it included all kinds of data and analysis.
Pretty soon, she was also analyzing scouting data, and became an integral part of the football operations, including going to core events like NFL Draft days. She says of her work,
"Most of my work consists of analyzing data from the personnel and medical staff. Personnel work involves assisting the scouting (both college and pro) department to identify key traits in players, project players into the NFL, and evaluate our own scouting system to see which measured variables are most important."
Her work also involves assisting the medical department to ensure that players are at optimum fitness on gameday. She works with the team to make sure that there is minimum scope of injury to players. Bailey has also been involved in the coaching side of things in areas like self-scouting reports for players. She adds:
"My work on the performance side looks at the various measurements we collect to try to optimize players' gameday performance and minimize the probability of preventable injury. I also do some coaching work where I assist in the development of self-scouting reports to plan for future games and analyze prior games."
Therefore, Bailey comes into this role of Tennessee Titans with a background in basketball, hockey, and baseball. In the NFL, she has digital media analysis experience as an intern, followed by sports statistics in the fields of training, scouting, medicine, performance, and coaching.
Beyond football, a quick glance at her social media shows that she remains a fan of hockey. Even though she is from Canada, the Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be her team of choice.
However, now, her focus will be on the Tennessee Titans, and the entire league is richer because of it. Even today, NFL as an enterprise and data science as a pursuit are mainly male-dominated. That someone has gone to the lengths Sarah Bailey has, is inspirational.