Charity Auctions and the Sports “Dorkapalooza” at MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan students organize charity auctions typically twice a year. Each “ocean” (the approximately 70-person cohort with which students take their first-semester core classes) selects a charity to support and identifies items to be auctioned, such as lunch with a professor, a home-cooked meal by a student, and more unusual offerings, like having a professor chauffeur you to class in their classic car. First-year oceans compete to see which one can raise the most money, and second-year students organize a similar auction. All together, the auctions raise tens of thousands of dollars each year for such charities as the California Wildfires Fund, Children of Uganda, Pencils of Promise, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and the Sloan Social Impact Fellowship.

MIT Sloan students are active in organizing conferences as well. Did you know that some of the biggest names in sports have met annually since 2007 for an event at the school that former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons once described as “dorkapalooza”? At the student-run Sports Analytics Conference, participants discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry, and students have ample opportunity to network with the elite of the sports world.

The 14th annual conference was held over two days in March 2020 in Boston, where more than 3,000 attendees witnessed industry experts, leaders, and professionals participate in nearly 70 panel discussions. Among the event’s speakers were the commissioner of Major League Soccer, the CEO of the Atlanta Hawks, and the head of U.S. sports at Twitter. The panels covered such topics as “Start Me Up: Innovation and Entrepreneurship,” “Changing Sports: Beyond Ownership,” “The Path to Greatness,” “Pass the Secret Sauce: Learning Across Sports,” and “Reinventing a Business: The Future of Sports Business.” Other conference events included a research papers exhibition, such workshops as “An Optimization Approach to Roster Creation and Game Scheduling” and “Introduction to NFL Player Tracking Data in R,” a First Pitch Case Competition, and a “Hackathon.” A second-year EMS (Entertainment, Media, and Sports) Club member told mbaMission, “The event is one of the largest student-organized conferences in the country and was named the third most innovative company in all of sports (behind only the NFL and MLB Advanced Media) by Fast Company [magazine].”

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