This past weekend at MIT was what Mark Cuban calls “Geekapollooza,” but what everyone else calls the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. It’s nice to see that the professional nerds on sports have their own conference. The description from their site states:
The conference goal is to provide a forum for industry professionals (executives and leading researchers) and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. MIT Sloan is dedicated to fostering growth in this arena, and the conference enriches opportunities for learning about the sports business world. The conference is open to anyone interested in sports.
Though the real description is that a bunch of (usually highly educated) nerds come together with the people in sports management and discuss their idea and breakthroughs in statistics and analytics. The ESPN Numbers Never Lie team made a little video that explains the conference well:
As far as I can tell from what I saw/read/heard about coming out of SSAC these are the important stories:
- Every sport was covered. Of course there were panels for baseball, basketball, and football, but there were panels for soccer, golf, tennis, advertising, and even hockey.
- Bill James is a god among nerds. He was a special guest on panels, podcasts, and ESPN interviews. I think everyone is trying to make up for the Baseball Abstracts days.
- There was a panel dedicated to sports gambling, because it turns out that degenerates who gamble on sports have paved and are paving new roads in predictive sports analytics.
- TicketMaster started talking about their new PriceMaster stab at dynamic ticket pricing. Probably means more expensive tickets, but maybe there’ll be a last-minute cheap-o (like myself) option.
- EPSN was all over this thing: They has sponsorship ads in place. They had people on half the panels. They had their own panels. They were even broadcasting live.
To end this, I’ll leave you with a video of Kevin McHale, who, though not as hating as Joe Morgan, has never been a fan of all the advanced statistical analysis until (as you’ll see at about 2/3s into the video the video) he realizes that his GM (Daryl Morey) is a big fan of this stuff. So much so that he’s a co-chair at Sloan.