2020 Competitive Advantage

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SSAC20’s Competitive Advantage presentations featured experts from leagues, teams, and industry providing insight on how new applications of data analytics are shaping and transforming the sports business. The speakers shared and showed details on analytic tools, technologies and strategies used in their organizations.

2020 MIT SLOAN SPORTS ANALYTICS CONFERENCE Competitive Advantage

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Friday, March 6 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Competitive Advantage North

Big comebacks represent sustained great performance under pressure and make for memorable golf tournaments. In the past, comebacks have typically been at the beginning of the final round (e.g., the winner came from five strokes back at the beginning of the final round). In this talk, a new comeback metric is proposed that considers all times during the event and simultaneously accounts for strokes behind the leader, position on the leaderboard, and the time remaining in the tournament. This metric is used to identify the biggest comebacks in golf. Similar analyses are used to identify the biggest collapses and the grittiest performances in golf.

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Friday, March 6 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Football coaches want every tool possible to help them make smart decisions when it comes to analyzing opponents, assessing recruits, and helping the team improve. The utilization of tracking data, event data and football film to do just this has been a massive hit for Texas A&M Football. In his talk, Kratik Malhotra will highlight the role of machine learning, computer vision and data visualization to breakdown and comprehend data, and the role that these techniques play in making calculated decisions to put his team on top.

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Friday, March 6 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Pundits have predicted the demise of the NFL ever since our research team published that the 110 of the first 111 former NFL players to have their brains studied at Boston University post-mortem were diagnosed with CTE, a degenerative brain disease caused by playing football. However, new analytics reveal a clear opportunity to prevent CTE and save the game. The only question is – will the NFL act?

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Friday, March 6 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Competitive Advantage North

Not always the first sport that springs to mind when thinking about digital innovation, the England and Wales Cricket Board has been on a transformation of its own over the last few years to becoming an evidence-based, data-driven organisation from top to bottom. In this session, Damian will take us through this journey describing some of the successes and challenges, with specific examples of performance analytics and fan engagement, and the tools and technologies that have got them this far, and what the future holds for sport and the sport of cricket.

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Friday, March 6 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM
Competitive Advantage North

At the 2016 Olympic Games, USA Swimming won 33 medals – the most of any sport at the Olympics and over 25% of all US medals. 15 of those 33 medals were less than 0.5 seconds away from 4th place. 4 medals were less than 0.1 seconds away. Elite swimmers practice and execute with precision to find those tenths and hundredths of a second. Russell Mark will speak to the data and process that Olympic champions and World Record holders are using to make improvements with Tokyo 2020 less than 5 months away.

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Friday, March 6 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Soccer, the sport with the highest point value in the world, has a fundamental problem when it comes to analyzing it: there are many frequent events and very few that are relevant. In this talk, Javier Fernandez, Head of Sports Analytics for FC Barcelona, will go through his experience at FC Barcelona engaging in meaningful conversations with coaches through the use of powerful visuals. We will discuss how can we leverage modern soccer analytics for spotting the patterns that matter.

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Friday, March 6 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM
Competitive Advantage South

The NFL entered into new ticketing partnerships at the start of the 2018 season, embracing an innovative open distribution ticketing network model to provide more verified access points for fans to buy tickets and gain a deeper understanding of season ticket members, primary and secondary ticket purchasers, and transferred tickets. The open network and NFL-KAGR technology platform has provided visibility into millions of customers, both new to ticketing platforms and entirely new to the NFL broader ecosystem. During this session, League executives will discuss this open ticketing model, how it has enhanced both League and Club businesses, and what’s next for 2020 & beyond.

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Friday, March 6 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM
Competitive Advantage North

Join USA Football CEO and Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck to gain insight on the Football Development Model (FDM). In alignment with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s American Development Model, the FDM is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and teaching the sport based on an athlete’s age, skills being learned and game type. Scott also will discuss challenges and opportunities before the country’s youth football family, highlighting recent, independent research to better understand parents’ concerns and welcome more young athletes to America’s favorite sport.

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Friday, March 6 11:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Competitive Advantage North

Athletes Unlimited is a new model of pro sports where athletes are decision-makers and individual players are champions of team sports. Come hear from Co-Founder and CEO Jon Patricof, former President of New York City FC and Tribeca Enterprises, who will present the first-ever public presentation on this new network of pro sports leagues set to launch in Summer 2020. This session will introduce you to a new model of pro team sports that brings what fans love about fantasy sports into reality where #everymomentmatters. You will hear about the league’s novel scoring and compensation system that rewards both team and individual performance.

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Friday, March 6 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Competitive Advantage North

Mike Conley, Cavaliers Operating Co. LLC’s Chief Information Officer, provides a deep dive into how the organization is leveraging AXS’ real-time data streams to reshape the fan experience and day-to-day business. This 25-minute presentation is ripe with use cases and tangible results – diving deep into the approach, solution and outcomes tied to the availability of reliable real-time data.

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Friday, March 6 12:45 PM – 1:15 PM
Competitive Advantage South

Statistical analysis of professional golf presents a unique set of challenges, and advantages, compared to other major professional sports. This presentation will walk through a predictive model of golf performance. Along the way, several detours will be taken into related topics such as: the (in)efficiency of golf betting markets and how much value this simple model can add to them; how to effectively visualize golf data on the web; and going beyond prediction to understand the determinants of golfer performance.

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Friday, March 6 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Competitive Advantage North

The increasing volume, variety, and velocity of sports data provides both great opportunities and challenges for data scientists working in sports. From handling billions of rows of player tracking data using BigQuery to going from film to meaningful data using video intelligence, we’ll show how various Google Cloud tools can help solve interesting problems in sports analytics.

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Friday, March 6 1:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Competitive Advantage South

On ESPN.com, there are separate verticals for the NBA, fantasy basketball, gambling and analytics. Often, content lands on one of those verticals and not the others, when in fact they are all utilizing the same data, doing similar analysis, and the conclusions are pertinent to each. I use analytics tools ranging from scouting software such as Second Spectrum to per-minute/possession boxscore stats to impact metrics such as Real Plus Minus in order to inform and enliven my analysis for NBA, fantasy basketball and/or gambling projections.

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Friday, March 6 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Competitive Advantage North

Sports analytics focuses on new ways to create and slice data, like that found on the back of an athlete’s trading card. Aaronson focuses on understanding the front of the card – who the person is and creating a comprehensive framework for if, why, and how a player can be successful in a given environment. This talk reviews how machine learning platform can integrate with an organization’s internal models and technology, maximizing scouting reports, eliminating subjective assessments, prescriptively readying resources, and increasing the probability of success.

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Friday, March 6 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Competitive Advantage South

The business of sponsorships is rapidly evolving as the needs of businesses continue to grow and demand more data to support their partnerships. While sports teams and organizations are tasked to invest more in data to support ROI, they must also continue to invest in data to guide strategy and maximize the business. While data has always lived in traditional business such as the Finance sector, it is becoming an integral part of team sports and specifically the sponsorship area of the business. With the right people and analytic support, along with a strong data focus, analytics is becoming an organic extension of sponsorships and helping the business to make smarter business decisions to maximize the business and have more awareness of trends and business behaviors.

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Friday, March 6 2:45 PM – 3:15 PM
Competitive Advantage South

Measuring team and player performance in soccer is extremely challenging due to the continuous, low-scoring and strategic nature of the game. Couple these issues with the fact that the “world game” has so many different leagues and competitions around the globe which vary in terms of quality, style, and data coverage – this problem is compounded. In this talk, we show how using machine learning and computer vision can get around these issues to objectively measure team and player performance. Specifically, using an enormous amount of tracking, event and video data we show: i) how we can forecast how a player will play on another team, ii) how to accurately measure formations in soccer, and iii) how to capture tracking data from broadcast video.

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Friday, March 6 3:15 PM – 3:45 PM
Competitive Advantage South

The San Francisco Giants are building a new foundation to support their business. Literally. The Mission Rock development will be a new mixed-use neighborhood consisting of parks, open space, residential, commercial and retail construction. This real estate venture is being co-developed by the Giants and partner Tishman Speyer, with groundbreaking set for early 2020. But, it comes with trade-offs. Parking supply around Oracle Park is shifting, with less Giants-controlled capacity and a need to redirect demand toward other parking facilities and different modes of transportation. Learn how the Giants, on the precipice of a new era, are leveraging data and research to develop a plan that will allow them to maintain a great experience for their fans.

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Friday, March 6 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Competitive Advantage North

Every athlete, team and sponsor will at some point be directly, or indirectly involved in a crisis of reputation. Recovery and even opportunity from this will depend on the perceptions that surround you – on both traditional and digital media. In this session you will learn through a case study the process we use to understand perceptions and create content strategies to improve reputation and build a brand more resilient to crisis.

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Friday, March 6 4:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Competitive Advantage South

Hockey is traditionally a conservative sport with a lot of attention paid to scouting. Using new data and analytics, Stathletes is able to find trends in generational talent that were historically not quantified. This talk will focus on key examples and discuss the future trends in the sport.

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Friday, March 6 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Competitive Advantage South

The most impactful journalism is distinctive not derivative. It tells the stories no one else is telling. In sports, that often means going beyond the game and bringing in pop culture, politics, gender and race. It also means going beyond the familiar narratives and the numbers that media executives rely on. This talk will look at the changing sports storytelling landscape, what the numbers can’t tell you and how you can be a better storyteller or use storytelling techniques in your own work.

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Friday, March 6 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM
Competitive Advantage North

Over its 70 year history, Formula 1 has pioneered numerous technologies and innovations that have positively contributed to combat carbon emissions. Hear how F1 plans to be the driving force for both the sport and automotive industry and achieve its ambitious target to be a net zero carbon sport by 2030.

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Saturday, March 7 8:30 AM – 9:00 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Expected goals are the foundation of some of the most popular and comprehensive stats in hockey analytics today, advancing discussions beyond the shot totals more popularly known as “Corsi.” This talk will dig into the history and data behind expected goals, its uses and limitations, and its implications for our understanding of NHL player value. The focus will be on findings from publicly available NHL data.

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Saturday, March 7 9:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Competitive Advantage South

There’s an abundance of data being collected on athletes in training settings, yet without coaches and athletes being able to quickly access this information near real-time, the value and utility of this information can be greatly diminished. This talk will discuss case studies from the MIT Sports Lab where the goal was to incorporate data into the immediate feedback loop in training through extraction of useful information from video and using a granular adaptive training method to help speed skill acquisition.

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Saturday, March 7 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Does team chemistry exist? If so, what is it? And how does if affect productivity? Joan Ryan makes the case that team chemistry is a biological construct and that Its sole function is to elevate performance. (In other words, it’s not about the beards . . .)

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Saturday, March 7 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Competitive Advantage South

Our presentation will focus on the power of location data and how sports teams can use this information to better predict fan behavior, provide more personalized fan experiences, and increase the value of sponsorships. To tell this story, we are analyzing location data from Boston sports attendees during a busy sports week in December 2019, where there were several games. We will illustrate how the location data can build upon basic demographic information to paint a better picture of what Boston sports fans look like in general and across the different Boston teams. Additionally, it can help teams understand where these fans go and shop before and after games and over time, further enriching teams understanding of their fanbases and creating significant opportunities to personalize fan experiences.

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Saturday, March 7 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Competitive Advantage South

Periodization of a training program has been a long debated topic, especially when it comes to in-season training. Jeremy Jacobs, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach, will show how LSU is leveraging the data they collect in the weight room to elevate the performance of their athletes on the field.

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Saturday, March 7 12:00 PM – 12:30PM
Competitive Advantage South

Football is the least amenable major American sport to estimate all player contributions due to fewer player stats, scoring events, and games. Objective evaluation of player value has long contributed to decision making surrounding baseball and basketball players. In football the value of non-skill positions has been limited to scouting methods. I provide a model framework independent of scouting methods that allows for a data-only approach to evaluate all positions and players in both college and the NFL.

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Saturday, March 7 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM
Competitive Advantage South

The Boston Bruins business operations team made a significant decision heading into the 2017-18 season. They implemented a strong shift towards mobile ticketing by eliminating print-at-home tickets. The following season they’d eliminate paper tickets. The ramifications of this decision would have a significant impact not only on driving identity but also revenue for all lines of business throughout TD Garden. Josh Brickman, Vice President of Business Strategy for the Boston Bruins and TD Garden will discuss the internal decisions as well as the process and systems utilized to drive value for the organization.

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Saturday, March 7 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Competitive Advantage South

Come for the shock, stay for the horror, and learn “Why do people do what they do?!” Today, that question is a more pressing than ever. The US is wracked by behavioral crises of opioid addiction, obesity, and Type-II Diabetes. And we are learning more than ever before that it’s not only hard to initiate behavior change, it’s even harder to stay the course, and hardest of all to make the change stick. Come learn about the hidden forces shaping our behaviors from Behavioral Designer Matt Mayberry who will prove that your habits are no different than your favorite Professional Athlete.

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Saturday, March 7 3:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Competitive Advantage South

In 2019 the Golden State Warriors opened the doors to Chase Center, a brand-new, world-class sports and entertainment destination. First-of-its-kind in San Francisco, this venue represents a new home and fresh opportunity to expand their legacy. Learn how the championship team has used analytics to uncover fan insights and create remarkable experiences.

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