On a cold and blustery morning in late February, the entire sports world descended on the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts for the 8th annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. The conference goal is to provide a forum or industry professionals and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the global sports industry. In attendance at this conference were representatives from NFL and MLB organizations, employees of all 30 NBA teams, and countless other interested students, reporters, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. Luckily enough, I was able to count myself among them. I settled in with coffee and bagels for what would be an intriguing, thought provoking, and memorable two days.
From panels that included heavyweights of the analytics world, such as Nate Silver and Bill James, to the headline event, which featured a fascinating conversation between writer Malcolm Gladwell and newly instated NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the discussions, presentations, and speakers were both informative and entertaining. As basketball is my area of greatest interest, I was particularly keen on a discussion between Daryl Morey and Bob Myers, the head basketball decision makers for the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors, respectively, and Harvard Business School Professor Deepak Malhotra that expanded on the inner workings of NBA trade talks, as well as an all basketball panel that included NBA coaches and executives, both current and former.
In addition to the valuable learning experience of the presentations themselves, the conference provided an important chance to grow my network. I was able to meet analysts and scouts from multiple NBA teams, including the Warriors, Celtics, and Thunder, while also reconnecting with former coworkers who now work for the 76ers and Pelicans. Moreover, I had the chance to speak with reporters from ESPN, Grantland, and other media outlets, and to connect with students with similar interests from other Universities.
While the conference was insightful, the two days did go by quickly. As I boarded my airplane a day after the conference ended, my mind was racing through the people I had met and the new information I had learned. Despite drooping eyelids, I spent the plane ride back to Houston reflecting on my experience, and, without much trouble, decided unequivocally that is was a positive one, and one that I would repeat in a second given the opportunity. I would like to thank the Department of Sport Management at Rice University for helping to send me to the SLOAN Sports Analytics Conference.