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2013 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Review


By hagrin - Posted on 02 March 2013

Well, the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has officially jumped the shark.

While I have attended the conference in the past, this was the first year that I have watched the webcast and to say I was disappointed would be the understatement of the year so far. Let's go into why the Sloan Conference isn't a "must go" destination for the sports analytics person anymore.

The webcast is an inexpensive $21 and it is relatively a well run webcast. However, you could see that the webcast wasn't nearly that popular as only about 30-50 people ever were in the webchat portion of the stream at any one time. Quickly, it became apparent to me why that was the case. The webcast only showed you the Grand Ballroom where almost all of the "paid advertisement" segments were delivered. Whether it was the SAP Big Data hour long advertisement or if it was a panel member dropping the 3 major PepsiCo brand names, a good chunk of the Grand Ballroom presentations were totally useless to the true sports "geek" or analytics "geek".

As a corollary to the above complaint, I was shocked at how little discussion there was ... about actual analytics. Too much of the panel's discussion was focused on opinions or broad-stroke analysis. Even in the best panel of the conference, the Predictive Sports Betting panel, specific information was nowhere to be found and was extremely broad based. Therefore the conclusion I came up with for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference going forward is this -

There is no longer a need to attend this conference if you are seeking actual information. There are better, free sources for analytic information on the Internet and the only value the conference provides is networking.

As an analytics person, you'll learn more learning Luke Winn's weekly Power Rankings column. You'll learn more by reading the blog entries at KenPom. You'll grasp more about data by perusing TeamRankings.com on a daily basis. You'll learn more reading the Football Outsiders articles.

The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has gone corporate. It has outlived its real usefulness and the spirit of the event has drastically been altered. Do yourself a favor - spend your money and your time supporting those in the analytics field that actually offer you insight and real analytic information as opposed to hour long opinion-fests.