By Frank Gomez
So The Bay Area Sports Report is going to get to cover the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that is happening in Boston on March 2nd - 3rd. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to attend this conference and cover it for the loyal fans of The Bay Area Sports Report. If you haven’t heard about the conference before, let me hip you to some game.
The MIT Sloan conference is a confluence of some of the most cutting edge sports based statistical analysis and research around. It was founded in 2006 and was the brain child of Daryl Morey (MIT SLOAN ‘00 & GM of the Houston Rockets) & Jessica Gelman (HBS ‘02 & VP of Customer Marketing & Strategy for the Kraft Sports Group). The conference is doing its part to bridge the gap between sports and the business world. Here is the conference’s mission statement:
The conference goal is to provide a forum for industry professionals (executives and leading professionals) and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. MIT Sloan is dedicating 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.
It is a conference where guest speaker panels are constructed of a bounteous cornucopia of Professional talent within the Sporting World. The panels aren’t just made up of former executive’s & title holders either, they are made up of current executives, commissioners, professionals, and luminaries within sports media. Here are just a few of the names that will be attending the MIT Sloan conference this year:
Adam Silver, Deputy Commissioner & COO of the NBA
Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
Daryl Morey, General Manager & Managing Director of Basketball Operations for the Houston Rockets
Jeanie Buss, Vice-President of the Los Angeles Lakers
John Skipper, President of ESPN
John Slusher, VP of Global Marketing for Nike
Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks
Mark Shapiro, President of the Cleveland Indians
(This is just a portion of the Executives that will be there, here is the link for more)
Here is a sampling of the Sports Media talent that will be there as well:
Bill Simmons, ESPN Columnist
Andrea Kramer, Sports Journalist for NBC & HBO
Bill James, Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox & Father of Sabermetrics.
Jeff Van Gundy, ESPN analyst and former NBA Coach
John Hollinger, ESPN Columnist
Marc Stein, Senior NBA Writer for ESPN
Ric Bucher, Senior Writer for ESPN
Michael Wilbon, Columnist & ESPN Commentator
and the list goes on and on. (Here is a link to the rest of the list of speakers)
Honestly, I don’t know where to start with the dearth of information that will be presented during the conference because I’m currently trying to figure out a way to multiply myself in order to hit every panel. Still crossing my fingers that Michael Keaton will show up at my door with a way to multiply myself so I can attend everything but I’m not holding out hope.
So instead I may have to allocate my time & focus on hitting as many panels as time permits in order to maximize my time at the conference. These are some of the panels that I was interested in attending & writing about during and after the conference.
Obviously I have to hit the Baseball Panel since the Bay Area is home to the original “Moneyball” team, the Oakland Athletics, and I would love to ask Bill James how he views the team now after both the book & movie. I also would love to ask James about how he views the current San Francisco Giants baseball model & if it is sustainable since it seemed to be such an aberration statistically with them winning the World Series essentially on pitching alone.
The Basketball Analytics panel would be next and since new Golden State Warriors Owner Joe Lacob attended Sloan last year, it would be great to get a sense of how others have viewed his ownership so far and how they’ve viewed the coaching job of Mark Jackson. As well as how Lacob has constructed this current iteration of the Warriors and whether or not it has a chance to compete during this truncated NBA season.
I really started getting interested in Football analytics this past year after seeing the Raiders defense go cold down the stretch & would love to see what is new in Football Analytics and also see if I could ask about Front Office trends in selecting a head coach. Especially after reading this interesting article about Marty Mornhinweg’s potential as the new Raiders Head Coach. The Simmons and Cuban One on One will be a must see panel because Cuban is an atypical Fan turned Franchise owner while Simmons is his journalistic doppelganger who went from fan writer turned ESPN journalist and blogging social media juggernaut.
Finally, I would love to listen to the panel on Franchises in Transition considering there is one currently located within the Bay Area called the Oakland Athletics who has seemingly been in transition since Wolff and Fisher have taken over as Owners. It would be great to see if I could get some unfiltered talk on how the A’s are viewed around the league and whether or not what they are currently doing to their franchise is necessary or a blight on the League. I would also love to be able to attend the Fanalytics and Ticketing Analytics panels because I want to see how teams are focusing on the fan in the social media age. As well as how the secondary ticket market is influencing fan interaction and how the League’s are dealing with the shift in viewing habits and attendance.
Needless to say I have my work cut out for me while I’m in Boston attending the Sloan conference but if you love sports & analysis like I do, the weekend will be nothing but fun. I will be doing posts from the conference & putting together some video, pictures & interviews that you will only be able to get here at The Bay Area Sports Report. So stay tuned for updates as we get closer to the date & I would love to hear from The Bay Area Sports Report fans with what they would be interested in if they had the chance to attend the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.