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ESPN again plays key role in MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

MIT Sloan Conference

This week’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference presented by ESPN brings students and industry professionals together in Boston. The annual event – now in its 11th year – helps facilitate conversations regarding the role of analytics in sports, and the sports business world as a whole.

“ESPN not only sponsors the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference but also plays a key role in its content and activities,” said Ben Alamar, ESPN Sports and Information Group’s Director of Analytics. “Through the participation of personnel such as [FiveThirtyEight founder] Nate Silver and [ESPN senior writer] Zach Lowe, and our Sports Analytics team’s development and organization of the Hackathon, ESPN has established itself as a leader in the growing field of sport analytics.”

The third annual Hackathon takes place today before the formal conference kicks off Friday. The Hackathon, presented by ESPN and Ticketmaster and mentored by ESPN’s Sports Analytics team, is an event that gives analytical minds the opportunity to create innovative solutions for issues facing the sports industry. This year’s theme is:

Measuring the Immeasurable: Sports analytics is often criticized for ignoring intangibles such as chemistry, leadership, heart, and instinct. Participants in the Hackathon will be asked to start pushing back on that by clearly defining and then measuring an aspect of on court performance that was previously talked about as an intangible attribute. Participants will utilize basketball player tracking data to facilitate their measurements and will be judged on completeness of their definition, measurement approach, and results of their process.

The conference runs through Saturday, March 4.

ESPN and FiveThirtyEight will have a substantial presence throughout with executives, analysts and other experts appearing on the following panels:

Friday, March 3

  • 9:45 a.m. Marijuana as Medicine with ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt
  • 11 a.m. “International Growth: Targeting a Bigger Market” with ESPN VP, Editorial Director, Domestic Digital Content Chad Millman
  • 12:15 p.m. “Player Tracking Data and the Fan (Presented by ESPN)” with ESPN SIG Director of Analytics Ben Alamar
  • 12:15 p.m. “Sport Science: The New Frontier” moderated by ESPN NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh
  • 1:30 p.m. Football Analytics: Please Stop Punting with ESPN.com staff writer Bill Barnwell and ESPN NFL analyst Tedy Bruschi
  • 2:40 p.m. “Silver Asks Silver” (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver)
  • 3:50 p.m. “FiveThirtyEight Hot Takedown Live Podcast”
  • 5 p.m. “Business of Sports” with ESPN’s EVP, Global Business and Content Strategy, Marie Donoghue and ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell

Saturday, March 4

  • 8 a.m. “Career Panel” featuring VP,SIG Sports Analytics & Business Ops, Jeff Bennett
  • 9:30 a.m. Ben Alamar presents Hackathon finalists presentations
  • 10:15 a.m. “Ball Don’t Lie: The Future of Basketball Analytics” with ESPN senior writer Zach Lowe
  • 11:30 a.m. “Shark v. Fox” (Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban v. FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver): Politics and Forecasting in the Time of the Hedgehog
  • 11:30 a.m. “Daily Fantasy Strategies presented by DraftKings” with FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine
  • 12:45 p.m. “Data Driven Storytelling” with ESPN VP, Editorial Director, Domestic Digital Content Chad Millman
  • 2 p.m. “Getting the Scoop” with NFL Insider Adam Schefter

A full schedule of events can be found here.