March 2, 2019



Today, we started off #SSAC19 with a packed schedule of events! Conference Co-Chairs Jessica Gelman and Daryl Morey, along with Co-Leads Cory Brumbergs and Yesseña Brown, kicked off the days events by greeting attendees and emphasizing the new and exciting aspects of Dorkapalooza 2019.

The morning began with Data is the New Black (Maryann Turcke, Amy Howe, Jessica Gelman, Mike Zarren and Michele Steele), which featured an insightful conversation among those leading the charge in changing the way traditional organizations operate with data. This panel was the first of many highlighting the impact of data on organizational dynamics.

The morning continued with Basketball Analytics: Hunting for Unicorns, a fan favorite where the star panelists debated a range of topics, including the role Shaq would play in the modern NBA, and the degree to which player evaluation changes in the playoffs.

Next came a major highlight of the day as Meek Mill and Michael Rubin discussed social justice and prison reform in a panel moderated by Rachel Nichols. Having been directly impacted by unfairly harsh laws, Meek Mill offered deep and personal perspective on a serious issue affecting many, as well as the ways in which their newly created REFORM Alliance can create solutions.

The afternoon proceeded with two incredible discussions among industry leaders: Winning Outside the Game in the Business of Sports (Jimmy Pitaro, Michelle Wilson, John Collins, Scott O’Neil, and Jessica Gelman) went first with a wide-ranging conversation on the changing landscape in sports business. Next came Creating a Sports Legacy, where Josh Harris, Jonathan Kraft, and Casey Wasserman discussed their approaches to building successful and impactful organizations through the use of data to gain a long-lasting competitive advantage.

We were also excited to see a packed audience captivated by Bill Simmons’ interview of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. While the topics ranged from Anthony Davis to the G-League, Adam Silver candidly expressed his view of the NBA today and the role it could play in the future.

The Competitive Advantage Talks covered a wide variety of topics. Early in the day, Kevin Arnovitz taught us why scarcity is important in the NBA schedule. Later Nick Elam discussed new tweaks to the Elam Ending, and Michelle Kennedy ended the day by providing an inside look at the use of data by the Nashville Predators.

LIVE FROM SSAC:  In the afternoon, we were thrilled to host ESPN’s The Jump, hosted by Rachel Nichols. Additionally, the Listen Live Podcast Center was popular among conference attendees. Howard Beck and Adam Grant hosted intriguing podcasts, and The Ringer’s NBA desktop provided the audience a behind the scenes look. Meanwhile, a number of popular podcasters recorded sessions in our Recording Booth; be sure to check out all of these discussions when you have the chance!

FOLLOW ALONG: Don’t forget to keep tagging your tweets – #SSAC19 and #ANumbersGame. Also, follow us @SloanSportsConf on Twitter and Instagram! For those of you who can’t make the conference, we will be live streaming panels from the Bill James room throughout the day, you can navigate to the live stream from our website:

SATURDAY: Tomorrow’s highlights include Do Athletes Need the Media?, which promises to be an exciting conversation on the evolving voice of today’s athletes. We’re also very much looking forward to Making the Modern Athlete, where Malcolm Gladwell and David Epstein will reprise their classic panel from 2014 with a free-flowing conversation around sports generalists vs. specialists. Finally, the day will wrap up with Michael Lewis interviewing Mike Leach and revealing what makes him the most innovative mind in football.