Leaders across the sports spectrum connect at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

In just its 13th year, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC) has grown to be the leading industry confab, attracting the most influential names in sports. In March, more than 3,500 participants attended the event, representing 44 states, 33 countries, 130 professional sports teams, and 200 universities. To accommodate its meteoric growth, the conference was moved from the MIT campus where it originated to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

The packed roster of nearly 200 speakers featured writer and cultural observer Malcolm Gladwell, data guru Nate Silver, Hip Hop Artist Meek Mill, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, and the senior leadership of several major sports franchises and media outlets. Panelists and speakers also included data analysts, noted sports journalists, and coaches and players from the premier sports teams in the country.

The lectures, workshops, and panels were as diverse as the notables in attendance.

Just a sampling:

  • Data is the New Black: Building Data-Driven Organizations
  • The Performance/Precaution Tradeoff: Player Health
  • Soccer Analytics: Shaping the Future of the Game
  • Scoring Sponsorships: Metrics to Maximize Brand Value
  • Helping Dream Chasers: Social Justice with Meek Mill and Michael Rubin
  • Ticketing Analytics: The Power of Open Distribution
  • Making the Modern Athlete: A Conversation with David Epstein and Malcolm Gladwell
  • It’s Complicated: Athlete Relationships with Social Media
  • From the Martial Arts to the Art of Negotiation – Sport, Science, Art, or Philosophy?
  • Sports Mythbusting
  • Basketball Analytics: Hunting for Unicorns
  • Baseball 2.0: Updating America’s Pastime

Creative challenges

The two-day event also included a wide range of activities from speed networking conversations between industry leaders and college students to “Chess Blitz,” which convened the brightest minds in chess to discuss the transformation of the game. The Fantasy Challenge tasked graduate students from around the world with creating and presenting new fantasy sport concepts, while the Startup Competition and Trade Show gave selected enterprises the opportunity to showcase their innovations in sports-related technologies, products, and services.

One of the highlights of the SSAC is the annual Hackathon, which brings together innovative and analytical minds to create groundbreaking solutions in the sports industry.

The Hackathon actually takes place the day before the start of the conference. Participants are provided with a brief to build a digital concept and industry experts provide mentorship. Teams then pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, and finalists present their concepts to the SSAC assemblage on the last day of the conference.

Current MIT Sloan Fellow Chris Capuano, a former Major League Baseball pitcher, was on hand at the 2019 conference to share his wisdom in the panel Unlocking Potential: The Next Generation of Tracking Data.

Read the MIT News article about the 2019 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.