SBD/Issue 121/Events & Attractions

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  • MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Draws Big Names, Big Crowd

    Session Featuring Mark Cuban (l), Jonathan
    Kraft (r) Drew The Most Attention

    Saturday's MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference featured an "array of high-powered sports executives," former coaches and journalists, according to Gary Washburn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Colts President Bill Polian, Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, ESPN NBA analyst Avery Johnson and MLB analyst Buck Showalter during one panel "discussed how statistical analysis affected their philosophies." Red Sox Dir of Baseball Information Services Tom Tippett sat "on a panel discussing baseball analytics," while Celtics Managing Partner Steve Pagliuca and President Rich Gotham also participated. The afternoon session featuring Polian, Cuban and Patriots President Jonathan Kraft "drew the most attention." When asked what type of analysis he would like to see added to the NBA, Cuban said "referees." Cuban suggested that the league "analyze which officials make what type of calls and how often," noting that the betting odds on certain games "can be affected by just one or two missed calls." Cuban: "You have to do your homework with statistics. And it's easy to tell which teams don't because of the lineups they play. I don't want to mention the teams because I want them to keep on doing it" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/7). TRUEHOOP's Henry Abbott reported the conference was "far bigger than in years past, with around 1,000 attendees and a waiting list of about 400." This year's event "had to graduate to the very swanky and spaceship-looking" Boston Convention & Exhibit Center. One of the first panels focused on "those who will lead professional sports teams in the future." Panel moderator and Rockets GM Daryl Morey said that "people without pro sports experience are unlikely to succeed approaching NBA teams directly for jobs," suggesting that there are "opportunities 'to be the fifth guy at NBA India' or working for the D-League." Abbott noted "almost everyone on the panel seemed to agree that 'it's an apprenticeship league' and the only real way in is to start at the very bottom and work your way up" (, 3/6).

    INSIDE THE ROOM: ESPN BOSTON's Brian MacPherson noted the keynote panel discussion "focused on baseball analytics." Polian during the panel said, "We are constantly looking for the next undervalued asset. Geek-dom, if you will, provides us with wonderful tools to do that. I would add this caveat: Speak English, please. I have a very hard time understanding all the mathematics of it. I have a lot of work to do and a lot of decisions to make, and if you can't make it understandable for me, I have no use for it" (, 3/6). Meanwhile, TRUEHOOP's Abbott blogged from the conference under the headline, "Key Moments At MIT" (, 3/7). BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS' Kevin Pelton writes about the conference under the header, "Entering The Mainstream" (, 3/8). Another attendee offers a recap of the conference (, 3/7).

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