MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference (SSAC)


In 2004, MIT Sloan and Daryl Morey initiated one of the first MBA programs with a sports analytics business class. This began a focus in sports business that was extended, when Daryl Morey and Jessica Gelman founded the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in the winter of 2006.

In 2007, the inaugural sports analytics conference was highlighted by keynote speakers JP Ricciardi and Jamie McCourt. Panel topics included baseball analytics featuring Bill James, sponsorship across all leagues, league management/expansion, and careers in sports.

In 2008, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference doubled in attendance as Wyc Grousbeck was the keynote speaker. Featured panels included Defending the Title, which included General Managers or Decision-makers from the then reigning champions of the four major sports leagues; Bill Polian (President, Indianapolis Colts), RC Buford (GM, San Antonio Spurs), Brian Burke (then-GM, Anaheim Ducks), and Jed Hoyer (Assistant GM, Boston Red Sox).

In 2009, the conference transitioned to a featured panel format and again doubled in attendance. The first featured panel was Evolution of the Fan Experience, which was moderated by Bill Simmons and included Jeff Van Gundy and Brian Burke looking at how new technology, stadium design, game innovations, and customer initiatives are taking the fan experience to the next level. The second featured panel, Value of Icon Players, included Carla Christofferson and all-star guard Ray Allen discussing how to quantify the value icon players bring to a team or city. Other featured speakers included Adam Silver talking about the evolving value of new media and sports, Jonathan Kraft speaking on the globalization of sports, and Mark Cuban debating basketball analytics with some of the league’s top analytics users.

In 2010, the conference was again a tremendous success, attracting over 1,000 attendees with another 400 on the waitlist. It also marked the first time the conference was held away from the MIT campus, moving to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The feature panel was What Geeks Don’t Get: The Limits of Moneyball, and included Mark Cuban, Jonathan Kraft, Daryl Morey, Bill Polian, and Bill Simmons, and was moderated by Michael Lewis. The panel explored the decision making processes general managers and owners go through beyond the numbers. Beyond panel discussions, 2010 also saw the introduction of the research paper track, an extremely popular addition.

Watch the panels presented at MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.