For a long time, sports were just … well … sports. But then came a small band of often self-described “geeks” who began considering the application of mathematical and analytical principles in the world of sports. You may have heard of, read or even seen (Brad Pitt in) Moneyball, which is the true story of a baseball team manager who embraces analytics and figures out that many baseball teams undervalue certain players while overvaluing others—so he trades his overvalued assets for undervalued players and starts winning championships (divisional championships, at least).
Since 2006, MIT Sloan has hosted the preeminent annual gathering for professionals in—and students interested in—the global sports industry: the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. After growing by 50% in 2012, the 2013 event, held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, sold out. This past weekend, several thousand people from academia and the sports and entertainment industry participated in this unique conference, which featured panels on topics as esoteric as “Algorithmic Taxonomy of Basketball Players from Optical Data” and as accessible as “The Changing Nature of Sports Ownership.” Speakers included Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stan Kasten; former NBA Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and many others. ESPN/Grantland’s Bill Simmons attended and wrote an entertaining piece on the event, called “Geek Love.”
At mbaMission, we try to make few categorical statements, but we believe that for now, MIT Sloan stands head and shoulders above all other business schools with respect to sports analytics.