SSAC ’18 Day Two Recap

SSAC ’18: Talk Data to Me has come to a close, and we had an incredible weekend in Boston! Featuring content from franchise owners, business executives and entrepreneurs, former US President Barack Obama, and compelling individuals from every corner of sports, media and business, SSAC ‘18 never presented a dull moment. Thank you for joining us and your ongoing support.

If your morning coffee wasn’t enough to wake you up, SSAC ’18 provided just the antidote: an engaging panel on the intersection of data and public policy featuring Steve Ballmer and Nate Silver, and excellently moderated by Rachel Nichols. The three articulated how data can guide leadership and how technology is disrupting sports and media. The panel also brought us a lively discussion on basketball and the legacies of LeBron James & Michael Jordan.

Put a Ring on It: Building a Champion featured an all-star lineup of Bill James, Nick Caserio, Sue Bird, Chris Bosh, Mitch Kupchak, and was moderated by Jackie MacMullan. Ever wonder how championship teams get all of the pieces to fall into place? This panel addressed that question from all angles, providing insights from the locker room to the front office.

Michele Roberts made her SSAC debut in memorable fashion on the Playing for the Players: The Future of Player Advocacy. She was joined on stage by Dominique Foxworth, Don Fehr, Jim Tanner, and Deepak Malhotra. Many sports analytics enthusiasts forget to consider the many dimensions that underlie player representation and the professional sports unions. We learned that data and technology will become increasingly important tools in league-union negotiations. This topic produced one of the more eye-opening and intriguing panels of the weekend.

Saturday brought us no shortage of great esports content, as teams from MIT & Harvard (including Jeremy Lin) participated in the Charles River Showdown. Despite taking an early lead, MIT fell to the Crimson. Following the showdown, a panel of esports enthusiasts and experts took the stage to discuss the integration of analytics in esports.

The schedule on Saturday was jam-packed with panels covering a range of topics such as: athletes and activism, social media, sponsorship analytics, and injury prevention.

To conclude SSAC ’18, attendees piled into the Bill James room to watch former 76ers’ General Manager and basketball analytics cult hero Sam Hinkie speak on team building and the rebuilding process. Hinkie, who during his tenure embarked on a thorough and unique rebuilding experiment, was flanked by other notable NBA figures David Griffin, Steve Pagliuca, Lawrence Frank, and Chris Bosh, each of whom provided an interesting perspective on the matter.

Those exploring the Competitive Advantage talks were treated intriguing topics from analytics to women’s basketball to sleep science. The workshops featured useful tutorials on data visualization in R and machine learning.

THANKS FOR FOLLOWING ALONG: We trended #5 nationally on Twitter. Between Twitter and YouTube, the SSAC had over 80,000 viewers. Thank you for sharing all your questions, comments, insights and favorite moments!

MISSED A PANEL? Many our our panels already have been uploaded to our YouTube channel, and the remainder will be available in a few weeks.

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNERS! Our winners embodied the spirit of SSAC and the theme for 2018, Talk Data to Me. Look for them to be the analytics rock stars of the present and future!

Research Paper presented by MLB:
Grand Prize: “An open sourced optical tracking and advanced e-sports analytics platform for League of Legends” by Philip Maymin 

Hackathon presented by ESPN and Ticketmaster:
Student: Jason Feldman
Open: Zach Knowlton
Start-up Competition presented by Ticketmaster:
Performance Devices: Protxx
Technology Services: Zegami

First Pitch Case Competition:
3rd Place:  Rice University, Jones School of Business
2nd Place:  Duke University, Fuqua School of Business
1st Place:  Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
6th Annual Alpha Awards Winners
Lifetime Achievement: John Hollinger
Best Analytics Organization: Houston Astros
Best Transaction: Houston Rockets
Best Innovation: 3D Printed Shoes

eSports League of Legends Competition

THANK YOU: From our co-founders Jessica Gelman and Daryl Morey, our student co-leads Greg Kim and Sean Singer, and the rest of our student team – Thank you to our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making #SSAC18 unforgettable.

Can’t wait for #SSAC19 – save the date for March 1st – 2nd! Until then, keep talking data.