March 6, 2022

SSAC22 Day 2 Recap

We kicked the day off with On a Finger Roll: Where the Basketball Analytics Movement Goes Next (Allison Feaster, Haralabos Voulgaris, Katherine Evans, Kirk Goldsberry, and Kevin Arnovitz) where we heard about Kirk’s desire to use biometrics in keeping players safe, how basketball analytics are communicated from the analytics teams to the coaches to the players. 

Then, Malcolm Gladwell led a discussion of important societal issues in Transgender Athletes: A Conversation led by Malcolm Gladwell on Data and Participation Policy (Ross Tucker, Katie Barnes, Joanna Harper, Malcolm Gladwell). The panel discussed how as a society we can try to answer questions regarding the inclusion of transgender athletes. Importantly, the panel highlighted the impact that these decisions have on transgender people, regardless of athletic participation, when it comes to their identities. The panel concluded an eloquent and educating discussion in what surely is a conversation to be continued in the future.

No cutting edge conference would be complete without diving into one of the newest and most talked about technologies: NFTs. In NFTs, Ownership, and Utility: Outlining the Path Forward for Digital Assets (Rachel Jacobson, Brendan Lynch, Mickey Maher, Sam Rubinroit, Daryl Morey), talked about major sports leagues getting into NFTs and how achieving scalability must be done in conjunction with acceptance from the masses.

The SSAC Women’s Networking Luncheon had nearly 200 women in attendance. The luncheon keynote was Kathy Carter the CEO of LA2028 who spoke to the audience about her career journey and shared words of wisdom which inspired the audience. Several women in senior positions in the industry volunteered to be table leads and facilitated conversation with attendees. The women were gifted swag by the event sponsor Microsoft.

After lunch, we listened to In the Trenches of Football Analytics (Sarah Mallepalle, Kevin Demoff, Mitch Scwartz, Brian Burke, and Kevin Clark). The panel talked about how the bar has shifted for what is considered aggressive and how much progress has been made in how organizations accept and implement analytics. Sarah discussed going from “Analytics Twitter” to getting a job with the Baltimore Ravens and getting a behind the curtain look at all of the data used by teams; she has concluded that the running back actually does matter.

Mid-afternoon we watched A 1-on-1 with Calvin Johnson and Bomani Jones. Calvin discussed his growing cannabis business in Michigan, educating people on the benefits of plant-based medications, and getting his mother on-board with his plans. Calvin described how we have made progress, but still have a long way to go, in changing the mindset of the masses in relation to this growing industry.

All weekend, PGA Coaches, executives and staff from the PGA of America participated in panels and led the interactive golf simulator in an attempt to bring increased awareness to career opportunities in golf. The simulator consistently had a line as people tried to beat the sub-two-foot mark on top of the leaderboard. Follow up with Chris Kulinski if you want to learn more about careers in the PGA!

In the last panel of the conference, Trash Talking: Live from SSAC (Kathy Carter, Ariel Kelman, Nate Silver, Daryl Morey, and Jessica Gelman) we heard some advice from the panel to Kathy on how to make #LA28 the best Olympics ever. We also got to hear each panelist’s criteria for what makes someone a GOAT.

On behalf of our Co-Founders Jessica Gelman and Daryl Morey, our student Co-Leads Jack Blasberg and Emily Johnson, and our entire student organizing team – thank you to our speakers, sponsors, and attendees for joining us back in person, making #SSAC22 one we will never forget! 

Remember to save the date for our 17th annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on March 3rd-4th, 2023!


Panelist Highlights

  • “I don’t like the phrase bet on women. That implies a risk. You should invest in women. The risk is not investing.” - Arielle Chambers, How to Drive Audience for Women’s Sports
  • "Data is at the center of every single thing right now. That was simply not the case twenty years ago." - John Nisi, Data is the New Muscle: Technology and Sports
  • "The modern day fan is younger, is spending more, and is traveling from further away” - Karlis Kezbers, Finding the Modern Day Fan presented by Ticketmaster
  • "Sometimes the simple solution, the one that doesn't cost any money and the fan does not really notice, is the most realistic solution.” - Sam Schwartzstein, ESPN Daily: Maximizing the Competitive Meaning
  • “There is no scientific reason to block 10 year olds from participating in sports based on their gender identity.” - Katie Barnes, Transgender Athletes: A Conversation Led by Malcom Gladwell on Data and Participation Policy
  • “We are very bullish on live events. I do not believe you can build community without being in the physical world, digital world, meta verse, everything. It’s all blending and our fans want it all.” - Alyson Walker, Continuing to Grow in the Esports World
  • “Being affluent has given us a leg up in this industry [cannabis], but that is not the case for so many others that look like me." - Calvin Johnson, A 1-on-1 with Calvin Johnson and Bomani Jones
  • “If you look at overhead camera data in the NBA, the players that move the slowest are the All-Stars. They are generally more efficient in their movements." - Daryl Morey, Trash Talking: Live from SSAC

Congratulations to All of our Winners!

Hackathon Presented by ESPN

Open Division: Daniel Lee, Bayesian Statistician and Fabrice Mulumba, Coalfire Systems

Student Division: Charlie Logan, University of Michigan

Startup Competition Presented by Microsoft for Startups

1st Place: Swoopt

2nd Place: Reaction Technologies

3rd Place: Hedge Payments

First Pitch Case Competition Presented by SponsorPulse

1st Place: UCLA Anderson School of Management

2nd Place: Duke Fuqua School of Business 

3rd Place: USC Marshall School of Business 

Sports Innovation Challenge Presented by Oracle

Winner: The BetZone (Ryan Crann, Steven Stepelevich, Alvin Wang)

Research Papers Presented By 42 Analytics

1st Place: Detection of Tactical Patterns using Semi-Supervised Graph Neural Networks

2nd Place: Using Hex Maps to Classify & Cluster Dribble Hand-off Variants in the NBA

3rd Place: Beyond Action Valuation: A Deep Reinforcement Learning Framework for Optimizing Player Decisions in Soccer

11th Annual Alpha Awards

Best Sports Innovation: NHL Puck Tracking Technology

Best Sports Transaction: PHX Suns trade for and re-sign Chris Paul

Best Analytics Organization: San Francisco Giants

Join the Conversation

Even though SSAC22 is over, the conversations have just begun. Tag your tweets, Instagrams, and LinkedIn posts with #SSAC22 and #SeizeTheData to continue the conversation. Also, follow us @SloanSportsConf on Twitter and Instagram. We look forward to seeing your posts!