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Takeaways From The 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Andrew Seah |
March 5, 2014 | 7:38 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

Big data and in-depth research is exchanged at this year's conference. (MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference)
Big data and in-depth research is exchanged at this year's conference. (MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference)
It is revered amongst sports nerds. It is a haven of advanced metrics, statistics, and all types of delicious candy for the number-crunching sports analyst. Over 2,000 people attended the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, held at the Hynes Convention Center this week in Boston. 

And much like baseball’s sabermetrics, the future of sport lies in the palms (and computers) of these analysts, bloggers, academics, athletes, and the younger breed of forward-thinking team executives.  

Big data is no longer a trend in sports these days; it’s an actual field of research. In basketball terms (where the league and it’s various team executives are light years ahead of other sports), think beyond the traditional box score – assists matter, but what about the unrecorded “hockey” assists? What about rebounding, can we only quantify its importance based on archaic measurements  (rebounds per game)? Is the hot hand theory valid or a mere fallacy? 

As technology slowly ingratiates itself into sport, the smart and the wise have jumped on the opportunity to break the molds of tradition. The result is an ongoing intellectual inquiry that, for better or for worse, is slowly dissecting and re-engineering sports into science. 

Purists cry foul, claiming that stat-geeks pour themselves too much into numbers and neglect the most crucial aspect of scouting: the eye test. But that was an age before SportVU, before NBA arenas installed cameras throughout the stadium that could track each individual player’s movement during a game. The game is changing and this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is once again at the forefront of change and discovery. 

Here are some of the highlights: 

Boston Herald: A recap and reaction to this year’s conference and how analytics are slowly becoming more accepted in sporting circles. 

Forbes: A day-by-day review of the conference’s presentations. 

The Point Forward: Matt Dollinger has consolidated the 2014 conference’s 50 best notes and quotes.

The Point Forward: In a candid, off-the-cuff moment, former Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo sheds light on the NBA’s tanking crisis. 

ProBasketballTalk: Every year, the hot hand theory is a, well, hot topic at the conference. The verdict this year: it exists. Cue J.R. Smith. 

ProBasketballTalk: Panelist and coach Stan Van Gundy questions the integrity of advanced metrics. 

River Avenue Blues: The five biggest takeaways for baseball junkies.


Reach Executive Producer Andrew Seah here



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