March 5, 2019



After an incredible weekend, SSAC19 has come to a close. From high profile panels throughout the conference featuring speakers including Adam Silver, Jimmy Pitaro, Meek Mill, Mike Leach, and many others, to more niche events like Curling and Chess, there was a lot to see and do. Thank you for joining us (despite the snow!) and for your support.

Day two began with a fascinating conversation between Wyc Grousbeck and Jeanie Buss moderated by Jackie MacMullan. While both teams have struggled this season relative to expectations, the two owners discussed the history that has been the foundation of their rivalry and how each owner plans to get back to the top of the sport.

Later in “Do Athletes Need the Media?”, Larry Fitzgerald, Katie Nolan, Adam Hansmann, and Jeanie Buss discussed the evolving voice of the modern athlete, and the implications for traditional media. This was followed by Malcolm Gladwell and David Epstein returning to revisit their panel from SSAC 2014 and discuss how their opinions on generalists vs. specialists in sports have changed in the intervening years.

Stephen Dubner (Freakonomics) and Jason Concepcion (The Ringer) teamed up on Sports Mythbusting, changing the typical panel format by interviewing a series of guests to determine whether some traditional myths are in fact true. Topics ranged from Pablo Torre discussing the impact of dating a Kardashian, to Mike Zarren discussing tanking in the NBA.

The conference ended with an unforgettable, and often hilarious, panel featuring Michael Lewis interviewing Mike Leach. Leach touched on a wide range of topics including how to avoid the press on his way to the locker room, the similarities between football and pirates, and the ideal personality for a kicker.

Another highlight of the day was a curling tournament with heavy hitters such as Daryl Morey, Jessica Gelman, Mike Zarren, and John Hollinger participating. Unsurprisingly, the winner was USA Curling gold medalist Tyler George, but Mike Zarren was the runner up. Later, a packed audience witnessed Chess Grandmaster Robert Hess compete against ten others simultaneously, and then saw the future of AI (Leela) defeat the past (Komodo) in a commentated match.

MISSED A PANEL? Many of our panels have already been uploaded to our YouTube Channel. The remaining panels and content will be uploaded in the coming weeks.


Research Paper presented by MLB

Best Poster (audience vote): “The Economic Impact of NBA Superstars: Evidence from Missed Games using Ticket Microdata from a Secondary Marketplace” by Scott Kaplan, Vabhav Ramamoorthy, Chenar Gupte, Amit Sagar, Deepak Premkumar, Joshua Wilbur and David Zilberman

Grand Prize: “Decomposing the Immeasurable Sport: A deep learning expected possession value framework for soccer”

Hackathon presented by Perform and Ticketmaster:

User Experience Winner: Josiah Grimes

Gamification Division Winner: Su Young Park, Joseph Levy, Chaitanya Bapat

Start-up Competition presented by 42 Analytics:

Sports Tech Track: Perch

Fan Experience Track: Fan AI

Daily Fantasy Challenge presented by DraftKings:

1st Place: Thomas Bobyn, Grant Frey and Micah Hesman of the University of British Columbia

First Case Pitch Competition:

1st Place:  Tanya Assar, Rob Belk, Niyanth Anand of Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

6th Annual Alpha Awards Winners

Lifetime Achievement: Nate Silver

Best Analytics Organization: Oakland A’s

Best Transaction: Oakland Raiders for the Khalil Mack trade, receiving two 1st round picks, one 2nd round pick, and one third round pick

Best Innovation: NFL Next Gen Stats

THANK YOU: From our co-founders Jessica Gelman and Daryl Morey, our student co-leads Cory Brumbergs and Yesseña Brown, and the rest of our student team – Thank you to our speakers, sponsors and attendees for making #SSAC19 such a great experience.

Can’t wait for #SSAC20 – save the date for March 6th and 7th!