A look at the research presentations at the 2011 SSAC

The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is a week away, and I've been looking at the list of research paper presentations and posters.  All of the presentations pertain to the Big Four sports leagues in North America, with the slight exception of the paper on ticket-buying decisions by fans.  If I had to draw a theme from the paper presentations, it's that they deal with decision-making, whether by front-office staff, players, or fans. 

The poster presentations include two sports from outside the Big Four (soccer and golf), and almost all of them are basketball-related, but the posters appear to have wider applicability.  I am interested in looking at the two adjusted plus-minus presentations in basketball and hockey; the nature of those two sports adds some wrinkles that makes the process of developing APM different for both sports.  The poster on network modeling for player performance predictions in the NBA looks interesting, as does the knapsack problem applied to NBA free agent markets.  The lone soccer poster is a study of high-altitude matches in South America and their effect on low-altitude sides.  I don't think the study is telling anything that FIFA and the South American associations don't already know, but I'll make a note to chat with the author.

One other interesting thing to note is that almost all of the oral and poster presenters are students or professors in either business, economics, or operations research.  Engineers like me appear to be thin on the ground.

And finally, these presentations indicate that any advances in basketball analytics are applicable to soccer analytics, and vice-versa.