#OWS

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.