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Creating equality, opportunity in sports: Hall of Famer turning to data approach

Last Updated Feb 12, 2021 at 7:10 am MST

Ice hockey competitor Angela Ruggiero poses for a portrait in Chicago, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A Hockey Hall of Famer and four-time Olympian is behind a new data-based initiative called The Fan Project — a case to get more opportunities for female athletes.

Fans on this side of the border know Angela Ruggiero for being a thorn in Canada’s side for many years on the ice with Team USA, but since she hung up her skates, she and her market research firm, Sports Innovation Lab, have been hard at work helping the sports industry use data to make better decisions.

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“We’re in a fifth year now, looking at the sports industry, and we’re fan experience experts — understand the fan, understand the build-by partner technology ecosystems,” she explained of Sports Innovation Lab.

“One thing as an athlete and a female athlete, the number one question we’ve been asked by the industry is, ‘Who is our fan?’, and it’s kind of mind-blowing that this industry with the trillion-plus dollars that circulate and the size of it, that we really don’t know who the fan is.

“I increasingly believe there’s pent-up demand for women’s sports that hasn’t been quantified.”

FULL INTERVIEW: Hockey Hall of Famer Angela Ruggiero chats with 660’s Sandra Prusina

So that’s where you, as fans, come in.

You can submit your social data, which will be analyzed anonymously.

According to The Fan Project, the information will be used “to write a report that proves the opportunity women’s sports holds.”

They also have the backing of major partners like UFC, WWE, PWHPA, NWSL and LPGA.

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“In that, we believe we can pull apart the pent-up demand for women’s sports, and then ultimately create a business case for more investment,” Ruggiero said. “I believe we’ll be able to build a really great piece of thought leadership that will move the industry forward.

And she understands if people are leery of sharing their data from Twitter and Facebook with them.

“What we’re trying to do with The Fan Project is we anonymize your data. We’re not selling ads. There’s no personal identifiable information. That doesn’t even hit our servers.”

If you’d like to get involved, you can visit The Fan Project website.