Welcome To The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference!

I have been at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference all day. It’s my first time attending, and I am having a blast. I was going to write-up my experiences from the day, but I have decided to put more time into those pieces. I expect to post them starting Monday.

The picture above shows a couple dozen people swarming Michael Wilbon after the completion of the panel discussion he was a part of. It seemed like he produced one of the bigger post-panel crowds. If I had to guess, it was a combination of his certain fame, yet perceived likability. In comparison, Mark Cuban has to be one of the most anticipated panelists — even more than a Wilbon. Yet people seemed more likely to leave Cuban alone. I’d again speculate this is likely due to a bit of anxiety towards approaching such a polarizing figure.


There were a ton of interesting things said during today’s panels. Even better is the fact that one thing was barely mentioned.

That topic? The potential NFL lockout. I realized how little I wanted to hear about this subject. This is a telling thing since I am in a room with some of the brightest minds in the sports world.

I think I literally heard a few sentences on the subject all day. I must explain that I did not attend the “Labor War” panel. This was a measured move to avoid the subject, and because I wanted to attend the athlete branding discussion. Still, there is a ton of room for the pending NFL CBA negotiations to be brought into other venues. I was grateful that it wasn’t though.

I am generally extremely interested in anything topical. That is especially true when it comes to sports. Duh. I guess I am taking this conference as a bit of a vacation. Albeit a working vacation for sure. Still, on my “vacation”, I don’t need to be brought down by the specifics of an argument between millionaires and billionaires.

If that’s what I wanted, I think I did a good job. It wasn’t until after the final panels ended that I learned the negotiation deadline had been agreed to be moved until next weekend.


The conference covered many topics that are highly academic and extremely complex. During the day, the complete and utter over-analyzation of sports ended up producing feelings in me that I didn’t anticipate. These discussions brought further appreciation of the actual games themselves.

This is an interesting notion though. I like sports gossip. Lighthearted stories are fun, and are commonplace here at OWS. That isn’t going to change. Still, today I wanted to hear about player efficiency coefficients and +/- rather than speculation regarding closed door grumblings. The former topics are intriguing and largely positive discussion. The latter is uncontrollable and, at this point, not a fun subject to wrap my mind around.

It was nice to take a step back. In general, it is pleasurable to see sports and academia meet. I enjoy the studies of business, marketing, economics and statistics. I certainly enjoy sports. I often try to blend the topics here. The ideas surrounding the application of these academic fields within the sports industry is something I could listen to all day. I just did.