Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Trip to MIT's Sports Analytics Conference

By Peggy Morales (SMBA '11)

Getting the opportunity to attend this year’s MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston was remarkable. It took place during an unusually warm and sunny day in Boston at the Boston Convention Center. I arrived at around 8 AM, checked-in, and proceeded to go up the escalator to where the conference rooms were located. As soon as I got off the escalator the first thing I noticed was that there were mostly male participants at this event. I have to admit, that as a Latin woman, it was a little intimidating for me at first. But the disparity was not a huge surprise given the context of the Conference and the structure of the sports industry. Once I settled in and saw the day’s agenda I was reminded as to why I decided to fly across the country by myself and participate in this great event.

The topics listed on the agenda were about the business of sports, and the list of people that were in each panel consisted of top executives such as:

• Brian Burke, President and General Manager , Toronto Maple Leafs
• Steve Pagliuca, Managing Partner, Boston Celtics
• Adam Silver, Deputy Commissioner & COO, NBA
• Matt Silver, President, Tampa Bay Rays
• Daryl Morey, General Manager, Houston Rockets
• Jonathan Kraft, President of Kraft Group (Patriots)
• Bill Polian, President, Indianapolis Colts
• Mark Cuban, Owner, Dallas Mavericks
• Bill Simmons, Columnist, ESPN
• Michael Lewis, Author: Moneyball and The Blindside
• Peter Moore, President, EA Sports
• Jessica Gelman, Director of New Business Development and Operational Initiatives, The Kraft Sports Group

And many, many more!

The list was very impressive and I could hardly wait to hear about each topic. Throughout the day I attended five panels that discussed topics such as: Next Generation Sports Management and Ownership; International Expansion; What Geeks Don’t Get: The Limits of Moneyball; Future of Attendance: Innovations at Arenas & Stadiums; and Buzz-Worthy Events: The Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA Finals and Winter Classic. Each of the topics was very interesting and each of the panelists offered an insight into the business of sports that I found invaluable.

Throughout the day I found myself becoming immersed in each topic and took notes of things that I found interesting, which was almost everything. I ended the day with about 8 pages of notes and a couple of business cards. In choosing one thing I came away with by attending the Conference, I would say it was the reinforced idea that having the knowledge of running sports like a business is the key to a successful career in sports. Having analytical and communication skills are essential. And the “I can” attitude goes a long way with top executives. Lastly, being innovative can land you the position you have always dreamed of. Some of the key people stated that if you can think outside the box and come up with great ideas, “you are hired.”

In conclusion, I found this Conference extremely valuable to my quest of landing a job in the sports industry. Not only did I get some insight into the sports world from the people running it, but I got to talk to some of them. Making connections is definitely another way in and I look forward to next year’s Conference.

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