Day 1 of the 2012 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is done, and it was a long, tiring, but informative day. But before I talk about the first day, I should first mention the Soccer Analysts meetup the night before. Sarah Rudd of the On Football blog (and now an employee of StatDNA) organized the meetup last year, which was more of an intimate gathering around a restaurant table. This year the meetup took over the rear section of the McGreevey’s pub across the street from the Hynes Convention Center. It was exciting and gratifying to see so many people there — bloggers, analysts, entrepreneurs, interested parties, and a certain Alexi Lalas. Thanks Sarah for organizing this event, and for helping build this exciting movement!
I’ll write a more detailed review of the conference after its conclusion, but the conference started with a discussion of the future of professional sports leagues with executives from the four major professional sports leagues (and the best-known sports agencies) in North America, yet the absence of an executive from a soccer league — either the English Premier League or Major League Soccer — hurt the quality of the discussions about internationalization. I spent the remainder of my time checking out the research paper presentations, Kevin Goodfellow’s EOS talk on Big Data and sports analytics, and the row of sports startup exhibitors. I didn’t realize that each of those startups were also giving mini-pitches of their companies (kind of like a sports-related version of Startup Riot), so I heard only the last two talks.
In the end, I met a lot of people who I had corresponded with via email and Twitter, lunched with Ford Bohrmann of Soccer Statistically, reconnected with previously established contacts, and worked up the courage to approach Bill James and thank him for inspiring me in my new career. The last was the perfect end to the first day of the SSAC.
Tomorrow is the day of the Soccer Analytics panel. It starts at 1pm (1800 GMT), and I will blog it live. See you then!