This blog has temporarily gone nerd. I just got back from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, a place where the best sports analytics minds meet and mingle with fellow nerds, current athletes, coaches, executives, sports journalists and TV personalities for two days in early March.
With more than 2,200 participants, the conference grew by 50% from 2011. Sloan has become the sports equivalent to Comic Con. The tickets are expensive, but “it is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.” (Coincidence: Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend’s name? Yep, Sloane).
So how was it?
I shook Bill Simmons’ hand.
Me: Thank God I’m not the only one wearing jeans.
Bill Simmons: Just trying to keep it real (shakes my hand).
Me: (Giggles like an idiot and walks away).
I listened to Drew Carey, The Price is Right host and owner of the highly successful MLS club Seattle Sounders admit that most owners just want to make money.
Carey: “I could sell cocaine and make money if I wanted to.”
Did you know every four years fans get to vote out the Sounders’ general manager if they think he’s done a bad job? Drew Carey is Mark Cuban on steroids when it comes to fan participation. More Carey facts: he trended on Twitter 15 minutes into his panel discussion on Teams in Transition.
I laughed every time Jeff van Gundy opened his mouth, which is a total complement. “I don’t even know what analytics is.”
I realized Bill James is as boring as an actual baseball game.
I eavesdropped on Michael Wilbon chatting up Kevin Pritchard and praising the Pacers for staying the course as Pritchard deflected. “Larry’s been unbelievable.”
I sat next to Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett as he took notes during the Impact of Pressure on NBA Performance presentation. I’m looking at you Tony Romo.
I saw ESPN.com’s John Hollinger morph from the bald guy that created PER to rock God in a weekend, heads turning as he walked by hundreds of attendees with “That’s THE guy” looks plastered on their faces.
I had impromptu conversations with fellow attendees at dinner, discussing and debating possible Rajon Rondo trade scenarios. Each trade becoming more and more absurd with each empty beer glass. Salary caps don’t matter when you’re drunk.
And that was the trip, just small moments that made the two days fly by. I live in west Philadelphia, so walking out of an elevator and bumping into general managers like Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey or sports journos like CNNSI.com’s Zach Lowe is a big deal for me.
So how was the trip?
Yeah, it was a total success.
NOTE: I’m working on my Master’s thesis so the posts will be few and far between for a while, but I’ll try to detail some cool panel discussions and research papers from Sloan in the coming days.