That’s a wrap! The 2021 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has come to a close after two full days of thought-provoking panels and incredible research surrounding the world of sports and showing us the data! We appreciate all of the love and support from our sponsors, speakers, researchers, and viewers during this unprecedented year and virtual environment.
The day kicked off with an impressive start, digging right into the data with Making a QB1: The Science Behind QB Evaluation and The Acceleration of Sports Data Innovation at ESPN. In these two panels we got to hear great discussions about the future of analytics in sports relating to the scouting and development of a key position in the NFL and also how ESPN plans to leverage the newest technology and player tracking systems to innovate and enhance fan experience and player predictions.
During our Competitive Advantage talks, we gained incredible insight on the effects COVID has had on personal fitness and the new digital advancements, the link between vision, analytics, and performance on the field, as well as the key metrics to winning in tennis revolving around the number of shots.
We continued the morning with some Big Data Energy: How Marketing Technology and Analytics are Changing Sports and topped that off with The Data Dangle: Hockey Analytics. Our hockey panel cut up the ice, breaking down hockey’s slow adoption of analytics and how the teams are sifting through and utilizing the overloads of data now available. Marketing breached a new level of complexity with virtual fan bases and viewing experiences. Our marketing innovators from the NBA, NBC, Wasserman, and Endeavor took a deep dive into the information they have used to make decisions and how marketing via sports has evolved in this past year.
The afternoon was jam packed with excitement. We had an incredible highlight in a conversation with Mark Cuban and Andy Slavitt discussing the dynamics of the COVID pandemic, the decisions that have been made, and the hurdles we still have to conquer. In Getting a Handle on Social Media: How Data is Engaging GenZ Without Losing GenX, our panelists had some great discussions centered around sports utilizing the social media platform to grasp new viewers while adapting to the older generations. Our Need Fantastic Trophies panel discussed the latest and greatest sports memorabilia, specifically NFTs. The panelists provided unique insights and support for the creativity surrounding the new digital tokens and the part leagues, management, and players will play in the development of this new memorabilia.
We kept the afternoon rolling and discussed Daryl’s new city and observations of newest trends in sports and team investments. In Phillie Phanatics: How Teams Cultivate and Grow a Passionate Fanbase, we got to hear thoughts on what brings fans together and the energy a superfan base can bring to a team. Just like in Jerry McGuire, we asked our Alternate Investing: Teams and SPACs panel to show us the money. The overall market and digitization have evolved the way players, corporations, and teams are investing in sports and our incredible group of speakers gave us the scoop.
On a new note we took an inside look at the reality series Survivor. In Outwit, Outplay, Out-analyze: Survivor Analytics our panelists gave us an incredible look inside the game’s strategies, tactics, and game theory. They also discussed how the game has evolved over the years and how constant analysis of each player is critical to progressing through the ranks. We had a lot of fun rehashing old drama and learning more about the analytics behind this reality favorite.
In another highlight we discussed two major issues impacting the sports world. First we touched on The Invisible Opponent: Our Mental Crisis, where our amazing speakers relayed their personal struggles with mental health and the importance of the sports community taking action on this issue to support the athletes and de-stigmatize mental health. Next up was the issue of equality in Women’s Sports: The Time is Now and the steps that need to be taken to truly spotlight the value of women’s sports. The panel also discussed misconceptions surrounding the popularity of women’s sports and why now is a pivotal time to invest in this industry.
Finally we closed out the day with two incredible perspectives on entrepreneurship and building an empire. In Self-Made Sports Legends and Entrepreneurs, Alex Rodriguez and Michael Rubin chat about their unique perspectives from the field to the boardroom building businesses and how data helped them make crucial decisions. These two extremely driven individuals gave us key insights to overcome adversity and build brands that can accomplish good in the world.
On behalf of our Co-Founders Jessica Gelman and Daryl Morey, our student Co-Leads Maggie Riddle and Lindsay Solotar, and our entire student organizing team – thank you to our speakers, sponsors, and attendees for joining us on this virtual journey and making SSAC21 the best one yet!
Remember to save the date for our 16th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on March 4th-5th, 2022
1st Place: Routine Inspection: A Playbook for Corner Kicks (Laurie Shaw, Sudarshan Gopaladesikan)
2nd Place: Risk of Collusion: Will Groups of 3 Ruin the FIFA World Cup? (Julien Guyon)
3rd Place: MAYFIELD: Machine Learning Algorithm for Yearly Forecasting Indicators and Estimation of Long-Run Player Development (Alexander Williams, Sethward Brugler, Benjamin Clarke)
Student Division Winner: Devlin Sullivan with his report “Seam Shifted Wake Movement in World Series Sinkers: Who has the most extra stuff?”
Open Division Winner: Michael Shealy and Mack Meyer with their report: “Quantifying the Effects of Wind Speed and Direction on Fly Balls in MLB Games”
Veer Gangwal, Jose Tomas de Gregorio, Jack Blasburg (MIT Sloan)
2nd Place: Divjot Singh (Yale)
3rd Place: Edward Healy, Ben Helmrath, Emma Goode (Maryland, Duke, USC)
Under $1 million funding track - SEQNZR
Over $1 million funding track - Proteus Motion
Best Sports Transactions: Arizona Cardinals trade for DeAndre Hopkins
Best Analytics Organization: Tampa Bay Rays