TSZ's Five Takeaways From The 2018 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Another successful MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference comes to a close, and TSZ have scribbled their five main takeaways from this year’s event. Managing Director Rob Esteva and Editorial Coordinator Trystan Pugh twisted their own arms to visit Boston for arguably the premier conference in this sphere, and have combined to provide five key takeaways from SSAC18.

Women Still Under-represented

Women are still vastly under-represented at the conference. There are an increasing number involved in the panels, but the ratio of male to female attendees must still be something like 95%-5%. Don’t hold us to that split, but it is significant. All the more surprising when key female appointments are being made like Ena Patel at the Colorado Rapids.

Football Not Diversifying With Data

Football (we still can’t write soccer) teams still appear to be content with mainstream data, or accepting that as their fate at the very least, aside from the elite clubs in Europe. Granted, finances are a major consideration, but the lack of investment in that side is still more than evident. We welcome the day when a team sets up their own data collection centre (or use TSZ to do it for them!), uses one of the cheap solutions to access all the matches, and collects their own bespoke data that their organisation hold most important.

(Legal) Sports Betting On The Horizon In The States

The panel that discussed New Jersey and the potential legalising of sports betting within the states gave a fascinating insight into how the landscape in North America is closer than ever to changing. This judgement could blow the whole industry wide open, and it is one to watch in the coming months.

eSports Is Here To Stay, And Has Massive Potential

There were multiple panels and papers that discussed eSports but it was staggering to see the number of times it was mentioned in other panels. It is here to stay and is entering into the mainstream consciousness. There are clearly major commercial opportunities in eSports which is still in relative infancy, but at the same time there is a clear lack of understanding around it.

Our Lips Are Sealed

Last but not least, SSAC18 will forever be remembered for the presence of ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named’. We are seemingly bound by MIT’s gagging order on his session but all we can say is that if using data is good enough for the 44th POTUS to make key decisions in the White House, it’s good enough for TSZ!

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TSZ - @thestatszone
Rob Esteva - @robesteva
Trystan Pugh - @TrystanPugh