MIT Sloan School of Management recently held its annual Sports Analytics Conference in Boston focusing on Sports Analytics. Its goal is:
To provide a forum for industry professionals (executives and leading researchers) and students to discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. MIT Sloan is dedicated to fostering growth in this arena, and the conference enriches opportunities for learning and understanding the sports business world.
Different panels discuss a wide array of topics related to their field and take questions from attendees. Examples of panel topics are sports gambling, golf analytics and referee analytics, among others. What’s interesting is that the conference provided, for the first time, a hockey analytics panel, which consisted of representatives from teams that have had a fair amount of success in recent years. Whether they attended because they value hockey analytics, or because other teams had more important matters to attend to is unknown. It was definitely encouraging to read that professionals and students had an interest in the topic of hockey analytics.
This conference made me think of online hockey fan communities and their connection to the game and active participation online. Using blogs, fans have developed, shared and utilized sports analytic techniques to predict games, measure player performance and analyze season results. At the same time, professional sports teams in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL employ their own methods to measure performance to make business and roster decisions. Hockey analytics is important to both the online fan community and the professional team, even though it’s for different reasons. This common interest of hockey analysis and value of the field may be why fans dedicate their time and energy to the cause. It’s a feeling of connection to the sport they follow regularly. Most fans won’t ever become owners or managers of professional sports teams. But to see the game from the eyes of a manager is what connects a fan to the game.
Cullen, S. (2011, March 11). Hockey at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. TSN. Retrieved from http://tsn.ca/blogs/scott_cullen/?id=357614.
Dizikes, P. (2011, March 8). Strength in Numbers. MIT News. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/sloan-sports-conference-0308.html.